What ethical principles are we supposed to glean from this crazy story?
Lia Thomas, a biologically male swimmer who has transitioned to female, has been unfairly crushing all female collegiate competition while being allowed to compete as a transgender athlete. Ethics Alarms has covered the story in more than one post. Lia herself is unapologetic, and her Machiavellian coach is reportedly thrilled. Thomas’s teammates and opponents are not so thrilled, but so far have lacked the courage to take any meaningful action to preserve the integrity of their sport, fearing to end up like J.K. Rowling but without all the money.
So was ex-man Thomas unbeatable as a current woman? No! Yale female swim team star Iszac Henig defeated her in the women’s 100-meter freestyle with a time of 49.57 seconds. In fact, Thomas finished fifth with a time of 52.84 seconds. (How did THAT happen? Sounds like she “took a dive” to me, no pun intended…) In the 400-freestyle relay, Henig completed her leg in 50.45 seconds versus Thomas’ 51.94.
There is a catch, however. Henig is also a trans competitor, except that she is in the process of transitioning from female to male. In order to illustrate this with a dramatic gesture, the 20-year-old pulled down the top of his swimsuit to reveal the absence of breasts, which she-soon-to-be-he has had removed. A UPenn parent remarked, “I wasn’t prepared for that. Everything is messed up. I can’t wrap my head around this.”
Neither can I. Henig’s triumph is supposed to be fair and square because (she says) she hasn’t begun taking male hormones yet, or at least hadn’t as of June, when she wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, saying then,
“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.I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn’t hinge on whether there’s more or less testosterone running through my veins. At least, that’s what I’ll try to remember when I put on the women’s swimsuit for the competition and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to.”
So “she” regards herself as male, but still thinks that competing as a female is honest and ethical, and his/her coach and team let her, or him, compete as a female anyway. Got it.
That’s unethical, though confusing. The theory that there is no material difference between a woman becoming a man and a man who has become a woman is bizarre at best. Moreover, the fact that Thomas finally lost in a swim meet to another transgender swimmer going in the opposite direction, figuratively, not literally, since if she were swimming in the wrong direction…oh never mind…doesn’t make Thomas’s unfair inclusion among woman and more ethical
This week,the Ivy League issued statements supporting the inclusion of transgender swimmers in women’s competitions. Of course it did: the entire group of elite colleges has lost its collective mind, and would rather be woke than fair or logical.
As swimmers, Lia and Iszac should compete against each other, or not at all.
Bonus Quiz 1: Can you guess which of the Yale swimmers above is Iszac? I did.
Bonus Quiz 2: And you think Ethics Alarms has a lot of typos! Read this account of the Lia and Iszac story on “BO News.” I was curious because of the incomprehensible headline: “Male transgender swimmer Iszac Henig got here out to teammates final 12 months – and did NOT take testosterone.” It turned out that this was just a prelude. Here’s my favorite section, but the whole thing is like this:
Later, inside the ladies’s 400-yard freestyle relay, Henig as quickly as further crushed Thomas and his fully totally different rivals, ending in 50.45 seconds, giving Yale the primary spot contained in the opponents on the vitality of his leg of the race. Thomas inside the meantime completed her leg of the race in 51.94 seconds.
What’s going on here?