NCAA Championships Swimmer Wrote ‘Let Trans Kids Play’ on Arm for Race

The 2022 NCAA Swimming Championships have received undue attention. Penn’s Lia Thomas, a trans woman, has been at the center of the debate over the inclusion of trans athletes. Another trans swimmer – Iszac Henig of Yale – wrote a message of support on his arm before his race. Loading Something is loading.

Swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania has been thrust into the center of a nationwide debate over the fairness of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.

The three-time Ivy League champion won the 500-yard freestyle race at NCAA Championships Thursday, beating two Olympic silver medalists to become the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA title. But when protesters seeking to save women’s sport gathered outside Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center with their attention focused on Thomas, another transgender swimmer was busy preparing for his own race inside.

Iszac Henig at a meeting in February 2022. Henig at a meeting in February 2022. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Iszac Henig — a Yale Bulldogs junior who is a trans man — offered a strong, timely message to anyone paying attention to his women’s 50-yard freestyle race Thursday night.

“Let trans kids play.”

Henig, who postponed his hormonal transition so he could end his collegiate career by playing on the women’s side of the pool, wrote the four-word note on his arm ahead of his first of three events at the 2022 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. Fans and cameras caught a glimpse as he dove into the pool for the one-lap race:

Henig dives into the pool. Henig plunges into the pool at NCAA Championships. Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Henig’s message — and the backlash Thomas has faced — comes as lawmakers in the United States introduce bills designed to bar transgender people from athletic competitions at all levels, including elementary school.

The Yalie was not the only person to support Thomas and other trans women’s rights to compete on the first day of the Championships. As more people gathered to rally against the case, about a dozen counterprotesters gathered on the Georgia Tech campus on Thursday in support of the Penn star and other trans athletes, ESPN’s Katie Barnes reported.

Thomas has two more events on her schedule at NCAA Championships. She will compete in the 200-yard freestyle event on Friday – where she is the favorite – and in Saturday’s 100-yard freestyle race. She won Ivy League championships in both events, as well as the 500-meter freestyle.

Henig, meanwhile, will participate in Friday’s 100m butterfly. He is also about to face Thomas in Saturday’s 100m freestyle.

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