Transgender swimmers set fastest time in Ivy League Women's Relay

Transgender swimmers set fastest time in Ivy League Women’s Relay

Two transgender swimmers swam the fastest time in the women’s Ivy League relay on Wednesday night, prompting further questions about their continued participation in the sport.

Leah Thomas, 22, swam for the Pennsylvania State men’s team in 2019 when she began medically transitioning on testosterone blockers and estrogen. She is allowed to compete as a woman because she completed a year of hormonal treatment.

Meanwhile, Isak Hoenig is transitioning from female to male, but the 21-year-old Yale swimmer hasn’t taken any testosterone so she can still compete as a woman.

On Wednesday night at Harvard University, Thomas and Hoenig went head-to-head in the relay, and both swam the first leg of the 800-yard freestyle.

Leah Thomas, 22, on Wednesday night at the Ivy League Championship held at Harvard's pool in Massachusetts.

Leah Thomas, 22, on Wednesday night at the Ivy League Championship held at Harvard’s pool in Massachusetts.

Isak Hoenig talking to the coach before the relay.  Hoenig was born a woman but is becoming a man, although she hasn't started taking testosterone yet, so she can still compete in women's competition.

Isak Hoenig talking to the coach before the relay. Hoenig was born a woman but is becoming a man, although she hasn’t started taking testosterone yet, so she can still compete in women’s competition.

On Wednesday night, Hoenig (left) narrowly lost to Thomas (right) in the relay.

On Wednesday night, Hoenig (left) narrowly lost to Thomas (right) in the relay.

After a hard fight, Thomas managed to win for Penn with a time of 1:44:50 and Hoenig managed 1:44:65 for Yale, the two fastest splits in the competition.

Thomas will be able to compete in the NCAA championship in March

Thomas will be able to compete in the NCAA championship in March

Harvard eventually won, with Yale’s Hoenig team coming in second.

Penn was third.

The competition consists of races every day until Saturday, with the individual competition starting on Thursday.

USA Swimming earlier this month announced a new requirement that transgender women must suppress their testosterone levels for three years before competition, a rule that would see Thomas expelled.

It turned out that Thomas would be banned from the NCAA championship in Atlanta in March because the NCAA said they would follow US swimming rules.

But last week, the NCAA, the national body that oversees college sports, said it would be unfair to introduce a new midseason policy allowing Thomas to compete in NCAA championships.

Hoenig, scarred from recent breast removal surgery, will complete the transition from woman to man at the end of her swimming career.

Hoenig, scarred from recent breast removal surgery, will complete the transition from woman to man at the end of her swimming career.

Her continued participation in women’s competition has been deeply divisive: former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who won gold in the decathlon as Bruce Jenner, was among those who criticized Thomas for swimming in the women’s races.

“If a cis woman is caught taking testosterone twice, she will be disqualified for life, while Leah has already had 10 years of testosterone,” said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, three-time Olympic swimming champion and president of the Champion Women advocacy group. .

“It’s about keeping the sport gender-segregated: a space where women are really respected and where they can win,” she said.

Hogshead-Makar agreed to a letter signed by 16 anonymous teammates of Thomas expressing concerns about her involvement.

“We fully support Leah Thomas in her decision to reaffirm her gender identity and transition from male to female,” the letter said, CNN reported.

“Leah has every right to live her life. However, we also understand that when it comes to competitive sports, the biology of gender is a separate issue from anyone’s gender identity.

“Biologically, Leah has an unfair advantage over her competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her ranking jumping from 462nd in the male category to 1st in the female category.”

However, other members of the team spoke out in support of Thomas.

“We want to express our full support for Leah in her transition,” the athletes said.

“We appreciate her as a person, teammate and friend. The views expressed by an anonymous member of our team do not reflect the feelings, values, or opinions of the entire Penn team of 39 women from diverse backgrounds.

“We understand that this is a big controversy and we are doing our best to deal with it, while still focusing on doing our best in the pool and in the classroom.”

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