Words: Alastair James; pictures: Penn Athletics and Wiki
Florida's Republican governor Ron DeSantis says he won't recognise trans swimmer Lia Thomas as the winner of a recent race.
Thomas, who swims for the University of Pennsylvania, won the women's 500-yard freestyle event at a competition in Atlanta, Georgia last week. She beat runner-up Emma Weyant, from Florida, by 1.75 seconds.
In doing so became the first transgender woman in history to win the United States' highest national college swimming title, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) However, DeSantis, chose not to recognise this at all.
"The NCAA is basically taking efforts to destroy women's athletics"
In a proclamation following the race, DeSantis, a Republican who supports the recently passed 'Don't Say Gay' bill, instead chose to recognise Weyant as the winner.
DeSantis said Thomas' victory "undermined the integrity of the competition," and criticised the NCAA for allowing her to compete.
"The NCAA is basically taking efforts to destroy women's athletics, they're trying to undermine the integrity of the competition and they're crowning somebody else the women's champion and we think that's wrong," he continued.
By allowing men to compete in women's sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 22, 2022
In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota's Emma Weyant as the best women's swimmer in the 500y freestyle. pic.twitter.com/tBmFxFE3q6
He added that the NCAA was "putting ideology ahead of opportunity for women athletes".
Lia Thomas' involvement in swimming is the latest flashpoint in the subject of trans athletes. It follows a fierce and often horrid debate around Laurel Hubbard's involvement in the Women's weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
The US has also seen a number of states implement anti-trans legislation barring trans students from competing on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.
Attitude's new-look March/April issue is out now.