Elite female college swimmer begins competing against men, finishes nearly last: ‘Living in authenticity makes me a stronger, better man’

News & Politics

Though much of the controversy regarding so-called “transgenderism” and athletic competition focuses on biological males infiltrating women’s sports, a recent op-ed in the New York Times highlights the story of a female college swimmer who has begun competing against men — and has more or less tanked her collegiate career.

Iszac Henig, a senior earth and planetary sciences major at Yale University, spent most of her life competing against other females — and winning. She grew up “in progressive California,” where she and her teammates broke a national relay record when she was just 14. By 2016, she was so good that she qualified to try out for the U.S. Olympic team.

“At 18, I was one of the top 20 high school swimmers in California and one of the top 100 swimmers in the country,” Henig wrote.

Henig also spent three years at Yale competing with women. As a sophomore, she scored more points than anyone else on her team, and as a junior, she was even better. That year, she “went mostly undefeated,” participated in the NCAA national championship meet, and was named an All-American. Henig herself called that year “the best swim season of my life.”

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However, Henig, who identifies as “trans,” determined during her time at Yale that she was actually a man who belonged competing on the men’s team, which she joined as a walk-on. In order to be her most “authentic” self, she decided to “transition” into a male. After spending some time wearing “binders” and “base-layer compression garments,” she underwent a double mastectomy in early 2021, a procedure which she indicated was not medically necessary. She has been taking hormones for eight months and routinely works out with her male counterparts.

As the title of her op-ed — “I chose to Compete as My True, Trans Self. I Win Less, but I Live More” — suggests, her success has all but dried up since joining the men’s swimming team at Yale. In a meet last November, she finished in 79th place out of 83 freestyle competitors. Of the four men she beat, one of them is a Paralympian who was born without a left forearm, and three of them normally compete in breaststroke races. The breaststroke is often regarded as the slowest of the four swimming strokes, so, as Joe Kinsey of OutKick asserted, “The breaststroke guys are used to swimming slow compared to the freestyle.”

Despite her relatively poor showing at the meet, Henig insisted that she now experiences “a different kind of fulfillment,” which involves cheering “loudly” for her teammates and focusing “on the excitement of the sport,” rather than where she places.

“Living in authenticity makes me a stronger, better man,” she claimed.

The following is a feature story ABC News did about Henig in early 2022:

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