Controversial college swim star beaten by fellow transgender athlete
College swimming star Lia Thomas has lost to a fellow transgender competitor in her first competition since a record-breaking set of performances that led to outrage among some over fairness and rules.
Competing against rivals in the Ivy League from Dartmouth College and Yale, the Penn State youngster won her first two races by just two seconds and one second while being described by witnesses at the event as "barely trying", according to a report.
Thomas later met her match when she fifth in the 100-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relay races.
That meant there was no repeat of the two records Thomas smashed last month at the Zippy International in Ohio.
The first swimmer in this story making the rounds in right-wing media is Lia Thomas, a trans woman who is on HRT, and the other is Iszac Henig, a trans man who is not. Both are following NCAA rules, which are more strict than the Olympics. Also, Lia came in fifth. pic.twitter.com/sPu0Vrfthq— Gillian Branstetter (@GBBranstetter) January 9, 2022
Thomas, who was born Will and previously competed for the men's team before the pandemic, was trounced in the first event by 20-year-old Californian Iszac Henig, whose time of 49.57 beat hers by more than three seconds.
Henig, who is transitioning from female to male, also won the 50-yard freestyle and is said to have shocked some parents afterwards by pulling down the top of his swimsuit to reveal a flat, scarred chest after having his breasts removed.
"I wasn't prepared for that," one Penn State parent was quoted to have told the Daily Mail while asking to remain anonymous, reportedly adding that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) "needs to do something about this."
absolutely pissing myself that lia thomas got beaten in competition by a trans guy and mumsnet is fuming about it because it doesn't fit their narrative— 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ Winter (@restlessfall) January 9, 2022
"Everything is messed up. I can't wrap my head around this. They need to put science into the decision and discussion,"
"A man just crushed the women's team," remarked another.
Henig came out to his coaches and teammates in April 2021 and has claimed not to be taking hormones because he still wants to compete on the Yale women's team until the end of the season.
High-profile professor, psychologist and author Jordan Peterson, who has clashed with his critics over the correct use of pronouns, responded to the news by pithily telling his millions of social media followers: "Turns out pronouns matter."
The usual male BS.If women & girls just try harder you too could have the shoulders of Lia Thomas, the bigger lungs and heart, the stronger bones and muscles, larger hands and feet. Nothing to do with benefitting from a full male puberty.Women & girls are just lazy eh Chris? pic.twitter.com/3yK9waLyZl— GenderIsADrag (@GenderIsADrag) January 6, 2022
Saturday's event was Penn's final home swim meet of the current season and took place behind closed doors to around 200 people who were members of the media or swimmers' families because of Covid concerns.
The Mail claim last weeks that some of Thomas' teammates were considering a boycott as a protest to her participation but had concerns about being dubbed transphobic and potentially banned from the Ivy League championship next month.
"How convenient that they have now avoided this potential conflict that they're now aware was going to take place," said a parent.
The Ivy League releases the following statement of support regarding Penn's Lia Thomas' participation on the women's swimming and diving team. 🌿 pic.twitter.com/wdEDW4ud5O— The Ivy League (@IvyLeague) January 6, 2022
Prior to the weekend, the university and the league publicly emphasized their support for Thomas and pointed out that she is merely following NCAA rules after taking testosterone.
"As a member of the NCAA, Penn is governed by the policies of the national governing body," wrote Penn Athletics wrote on Twitter.
"Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender male student-athlete to compete for a women's team. She will continue to represent the Penn women's swimming team in competition this season."
Lia Thomas is swimming competitively today. In every race LT's inclusion means the exclusion of a female athlete from the female competition. I've no objection to - would applaud - LT racing competitively in an Open category. This isn't about exclusion of trans people from sport— Jon Pike (@runthinkwrite) January 8, 2022
One group of parents responded to the saga by imploring the NCAA to revise its rules.
"At stake here is the integrity of women's sports," they said in a letter addressed to the NCAA and forwarded to league and university officials.
"The precedent being set – one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete – is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries?"