A women’s swim team at a Virginia university have slammed officials for failing to protect their sport after a transgender woman joined their squad.
The Roanoke College women’s swim team held a press conference on Thursday after being forced to swim with a former member of the school’s men’s team.
The athletes said they felt abandoned by the university, and demanded the NCAA and U.S. Swimming put a stop to allowing transgender women to compete in female sports.
“I started swimming competitively when I was seven years old,” junior Susanna Price told the crowd, according to the Daily Mail.
“This year has been the first year of my life where swimming has been emotionally draining,” she said. “Knowing that biological men are allowed to compete in sports has been the most disheartening experience of my life.”
Sophomore Carter Satterfield declared: “We are calling on the NCAA to protect female athletes and grant us fair sports – in every sport. We are calling on U.S. Swimming to recognize that girls at every level deserve to know they are valuable enough to be given a fair race.”
Riley Gaines, an advocate for women’s sports ever since she was forced to compete against – and lose to – trans swimmer Lia Thomas, also spoke out at the conference backed by the Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Council on Women’s Sports which work together to represent female athletes and coaches, and promote legislation to protect women’s sports.
“I saw the tears, and I felt the extreme discomfort in the locker room, and I heard the whispers of anger and frustration from those girls who, just like myself and the swimmers in Roanoke’s team, worked their entire lives to get to that meet.”
The captains of the swim squad – Bailey Gallagher, Lily Mullens and Kate Pearson – revealed how the school left it up to them to confront the trans swimmer and figure out how to handle the issue.
The swimmer, however, told them she felt suicidal and was desperate to be included on the team, the Mail reported.
The captains are now calling for more clarity around the issues.
Roanoke College told the Mail that never made any decision about allowing the trans swimmer to participate.
“This fall a Roanoke College student who identifies as trans (male to female) requested consideration to join and compete with the women’s swim team,” a spokesman told the outlet.
“While the College’s leadership was reviewing NCAA and national sport policies on eligibility, the student withdrew her request before any decision had been made.”
The three women accused the college of dodging responsibility given they had always been told the trans swimmer had trained alongside them all last year and was considered by the university a member of their squad.
Under the current NCAA rules, a person must complete 12 months of testosterone suppression treatment, and submit serum testosterone test results showing levels below the maximum for the sport.
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