The trans row continues as male-born swimmer Lia Thomas continues to snatch big wins away from her teammates and competitors. Now female swimmers are opening up to reveal their true feelings about having to compete against an athlete who was born a man.
Last week, Thomas, 22, from Upenn beat Virginia freshman Emma Weyant by 1.75 seconds in a 500-yards freestyle swim event. Upon winning, Thomas became the first transgender athlete to become national champion in any American sport.
Since competing in the women’s category, Thomas has continually broken swim records including the 100m women’s freestyle record which she set at the Ivy League Championships last month.
Openly critical even before the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Emma Weyent said it was “heart-breaking” that her teammate – later named as Reka Gyorgy- was unable to qualify because a male-born athlete had snatched her place:
“I have a teammate who did not make finals today because she was just bumped out of finals — and it’s heartbreaking to see someone who went through puberty as a male and has the body of a male be able to absolutely blow away the competition,”the Virginia Tech said to Rapid Fire podcast.
Penn’s Lia Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships.
Thomas becomes the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I championship in any sport.
Full story from @katie_barnes3: https://t.co/mYzU5uBDpS pic.twitter.com/zgmIEgKO5x
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 17, 2022
“She was very emotional and it’s hard to see since it’s her last NCAAs and she really loves that race.
Weyent went on to say that despite her teammate’s hard work, she was unable to realistically compete against someone who had male biology from birth:
“It’s hard to see someone who works every day, every night, still not be able to compete against someone like that.
“And it was just heartbreaking to see that she put all their effort into it today, and with the best time that she’s went in the morning session before, and still not make it back.”
True to form, Thomas set a best season time at the NCAA Championships, narrowly missing the all-time record for the event which was set by a female swimmer, Katie Ledecky.
Later, Gyorgy penned a lengthy statement directed at the NCAA, pleading with them to change their rulings for the sake of the future of women’s sport.
The Hungarian-born swimmer who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics but missed a spot in the NCAA Championship finals by one place said:
“Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot away from biological females throughout the meet.
“I ask that the NCAA takes time to think about all the other biological women in swimming, try to think how they would feel if they would be in our shoes.”
Virginia Tech swimmer Reka Gyorgy has released a full statement on the NCAA allowing Lia Thomas to compete in the 500 freestyle. She was 17th in the event.
“Every event that transgender athletes participated in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet” pic.twitter.com/Z0J9lUY3pN
— Kyle Sockwell (@kylesockwell) March 20, 2022
The brave young women are the first student swimmers to publicly speak out against the swimming body’s decision to allow a male-born athlete to compete against biological females – but as Thomas continues to undermine fairness of the competition, and as this case has seemingly set a precedent for the allowance of future male-born competitors, it seems unlikely they will be the last.
Weyent concluded her speech with the heartfelt and logical statement that female athletes having to compete against biological men, with bodies that have developed as men, undermines the spirit of competition and has rendered her and many of her teammates understandably incensed and disillusioned with their sport:
“Like, it’s hard to compete against someone with the aerobic capacity, the muscle development, the body of a man — it’s hard,
“It’s hard to think about it like that — and staying positive, I bet, for other swimmers in that heat is overwhelming. Although I can’t speak for them.”
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