Students at a Virginia university are expressing their frustration and disappointment after a transgender woman was permitted to join the Roanoke College Women’s Swim Team. The controversy has added fuel to debates surrounding the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports and questions about fairness.
Transgender Athlete Joins Women’s Swim Team
Last month, a former member of the men’s swim team was allowed to join the women’s squad, sparking a heated debate among the students.
Members of the Roanoke College Women’s Swim Team feel let down by both their university and national sports authorities.
NCAA and US Swimming Face Criticism
Some students have called on the NCAA and US Swimming to reconsider their policies regarding transgender women competing against biological females.
Students Speak Out
During a recent press conference, Junior Sussana Price expressed her concerns: “I started swimming competitively when I was seven years old. This year has been the first year of my life where swimming has been emotionally draining.”
“Knowing that biological men are allowed to compete in sports has been the most disheartening experience of my life.”
Fair Competition Concerns
Another student, sophomore Carter Satterfield, echoed Price’s sentiments and called on the NCAA to protect female athletes and ensure fair competition across all sports.
Satterfield said, “We are calling on US Swimming to recognize that girls at every level deserve to know they are valuable enough to be given a fair race.”
The controversy escalated to the point where the three women’s swim team captains had to address the trans athlete directly.
The transgender swimmer expressed feeling desperate to be included and shared struggles with mental health, including thoughts of suicide.
Riley Gaines and the Fight for Female Sports
Riley Gaines, a prominent advocate for the protection of female sports spaces, has been actively involved in the fight against allowing transgender women to compete against biological females.
She has previously criticized the decision to permit Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete, to compete in women’s swimming events.
Speaking at the press conference, Gaines vividly recalled her experience competing against Thomas, saying, “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.”
In response to the controversy, Roanoke College issued a statement denying responsibility and stating that they never made a formal decision regarding the transgender swimmer’s participation.
A college spokesperson explained, “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. While the college’s leadership was reviewing NCAA and national sports policies on eligibility, the student withdrew her request before any decision had been made.”
This response from the college came as a surprise to the three women who spoke out against the transgender athlete. They claimed that they had always been under the impression that the trans athlete was a part of their squad and had trained alongside them.
The students also felt that the college was avoiding responsibility in the matter.
The debate over transgender athletes in sports has gained national attention. Earlier this year, World Athletics announced a ban on athletes who have undergone “male puberty” from participating in female world rankings competitions, further fueling the discussion.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund