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Nobody’s Happy About the Results of the Transgender Ivy League Swimming Showdown

A high-profile transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania was defeated Saturday by another Ivy League transgender swimmer, and political commentators struggled to make sense of what it all means.

SO WHAT

Neither side of the transgender debate seemed to feel like a winner after the unusual sporting event.

WHAT HAPPENED

Penn’s Lia Thomas, 22, turned in an atypically slow performance during the final home meet of a season that saw Thomas shatter school records and dominate competitors after transitioning from male to female.

Yale University’s Iszac Henig, 20, who paused transitioning from female to male to keep competing on the women’s team, defeated Thomas and the other Penn and Dartmouth University competitors to win both the women’s 100- and 400-yard freestyle races.

  • Henig also finished first in the 50-yard freestyle, and after the race pulled down the top of the swimsuit, revealing scars from transgender breast-removal surgery.
  • “I wasn’t prepared for that,” one Penn parent in the bleachers told the Daily Mail of the sight. “Everything is messed up. I can’t wrap my head around this. The NCAA needs to do something about this. They need to put science into the decision and discussion.”

THE REACTION

Right-leaning commentators, like political scientist Richard Hanania, expressed similar bewilderment over the results of the Ivy League swimming showdown.

Progressive pundits, like transgender journalist Charlotte Clymer, meanwhile, suggested Thomas’ defeat disproved claims that biological men’s participation in women’s sports is unfair.

Last week, both Penn and the Ivy League issued statements supporting Thomas.

  • The school said it is “committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff.”
  • The conference expressed an “unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form.”

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