Transgender male swimmer struggling against new competition after earning All-American honors as female


Iszak Henig, a transgender male, joined Yale’s men’s swimming team after finishing last year as an All-American female swimmer.

Henig has taken hormones for eight months amid his transition, but the senior’s times are “about the same as they were at the end of last season,” he wrote in an op-ed piece for the New York Times on Thursday.

Henig wrote that during a meet in November among 83 swimmers, he finished in 79th place.


Yale swimmer Iszac Henig on the starting block with “Let trans kids play” written on her arm during the 100 Freestyle prelims at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 19th, 2022, at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I wasn’t the slowest guy in any of my events, but I’m not as successful in the sport as I was on the women’s team,” Henig wrote.

The four people to finish behind Henig, according to OutKick, were a swimmer born without a left arm and three others who specialize in the breaststroke.

Several days prior, in a meet against Columbia, Henig finished in 10th out of 11 in the 200-yard freestyle and 11th out of 12 in the 100-yard free. His 400-yard freestyle relay finished in last place out of five teams, and his swim time was the slowest of all swimmers in that race.

However, Henig’s goal isn’t necessarily to win as a man.

“Instead, I’m trying to connect with my teammates in new ways, to cheer loudly, to focus more on the excitement of the sport,” Henig wrote. “Competing and being challenged is the best part. It’s a different kind of fulfillment. And it’s pretty great to feel comfortable in the locker room every day.

Yale Bulldogs swimmer Iszac Henig swims in the 100 yard butterfly preliminaries en route to the top qualifying time during the Ivy League Swimming & Diving Championships on February 18, 2022, at Blodgett Pool in Allston, MA.
(Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


“I believe that when trans athletes win, we deserve to be celebrated just as cis athletes are. We are not cheating by pursuing our true selves — we have not forsaken our legitimacy. Elite sports are always a combination of natural advantage or talent and commitment to hard work. There is so much more to a great athlete than hormones or height. I swim faster than some cis men ever will.”

Lia Thomas, who transitioned from male to female, won the female NCAA Championship last March, putting more fire into the debate of transgender women in sports. She was the first transgender athlete to win a Division I national title in any sport.

University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas (C) smiles with Yale University swimmer Iszac Henig (right) after winning the 100 yard freestyle during the 2022 Ivy League Womens Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 19, 2022, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
(Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)


As a high-schooler, Henig (then Iszac) competed in the 2016 Olympic trials and was one of the top 100 female swimmers in the country two years later.