Transphobia erupts as trans swimmer Lia Thomas is defeated by trans rival Iszac Henig
Henig is notably transitioning from female to male, contrary to Lia Thomas, who transitioned from male to female
The internet was flooded with reactions after trans swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously raised a wave of controversy after setting new records at women's events, was defeated by another transgender swimmer. At an Ivy League swim meet, held on Saturday, January 8, 2022, UPenn's Thomas was defeated by Iszac Henig from the Yale University team. Henig is notably transitioning from female to male, contrary to Lia Thomas, who transitioned from male to female.
Thomas, 22, a male by birth, did not find much success while participating in the men's category at swim contests in the past. But after her transition, she competed with the women's team and notably won the 1,650-yard freestyle at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio. She went on to defeat female swimming champ Anna Sofia Kalandadze by a whopping 38 seconds. The controversial victory created quite an uproar as many female swimmers from the University of Pennsylvania as well as lawmakers and board members railed against the inclusion of trans athletes with the women's team.
Both Thomas and Henig were subjected to mockery from transphobic trolls on social media following the Saturday event. "Couldn’t Iszac have at least bothered to change the first name to, I guess, “Rebecca”? #Genesis," former baseball player Lenny Dykstra quipped on Twitter.
"A man just beat a man in Ivy League collegiate women’s swimming and you can pay 55k a year for those ppl to teach your kids anatomy, English, and even logic," a comment read.
"It's great that transgenders now have their own category to compete in, now we just have to find a cat for biological women," someone else added, sharing a photo of Thomas from the event.
"Next thing you know trans men will start winning men's swimming events…happening never and said by no one," another chimed in.
Iszac Henig, a native of Menlo Park, California, and a senior at Yale University, specializes in freestyle and butterfly-style swimming. The 20-year-old came out as a trans man back in April 2021, after being a part of the Yale women swimming team for three years. In an opinion piece published in The New York Times in July last year, Henig noted, "As a student-athlete, coming out as a trans guy put me in a weird position. I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially, and keep competing on a women's swim team. I decided on the latter."
His latest victories include defeating the reigning champion Thomas at the Ivy League swim meet, organized between swimmers from Yale, Dartmouth and UPenn. Henig won all three events at the meet, with two head-to-head showdowns with Thomas in the women's 100 and 400-yard freestyle events. He also set a record in the women's 50-yard freestyle.