DeSantis addresses further controversy by honoring swimmer who finished second to Lia Thomas

The Republican governor, already involved in a fight with Disney over the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, claimed the NCAA “perpetuates a scam” and declared the University of Virginia freshman and Florida native Emma Weyant the “rightful winner “of the race.
Weyant finished about 1.75 seconds behind Thomas, who has come to personify the ongoing discourse on trans women’s participation in sports and the balance between inclusion and fair play.

“The NCAA is basically making efforts to destroy women’s athletics,” the Republican governor said at a news conference. “They are trying to undermine the integrity of the competition and crown another.”

The NCAA currently requires transgender athletes to have one year of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to be approved to participate in women’s sports. Thomas said she started HRT in May 2019 and came out as a trans that fall, and the NCAA has approved her participation in the women’s area.
Tuesday’s proclamation comes in the wake of DeSantis’ showdown with Disney over the controversial Florida law that would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity before fourth grade. A day after Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly condemned the legislation – which DeSantis has said he will sign into law – Florida Gov. Florida ripped Disney as a “vigilant company” into a space of supporters.

Unlike previous GOP leaders, DeSantis has been unaffected by corporate pressure or threats of economic boycott over divisive policies. On the contrary, he has gained a national following by leaning into matches, no matter who is on the receiving end – a strategy that was on full display on Tuesday when he entered the debate triggered by Thomas’ victory in the women’s 500-yard freestyle. event.

“In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best female swimmer in 500 years of freestyle,” he said in a tweet.

While sex is a category that refers broadly to physiology, a person’s gender is an innate sense of identity. The factors that go into determining the gender listed on a birth certificate can include anatomy, genetics, and hormones, and there is wide natural variation in each of these categories. For this reason, critics have said that the language of “biological sex”, as used in DeSantis’ proclamation, is far too simplistic and misleading.

A 2017 report in the journal Sports Medicine, which reviewed several related studies, found “no direct or consistent research” on transgender people having an athletic advantage over their cis-gendered peers, in any state of their transition, and critics say , that attitudes like DeSantis’ will only add to the discrimination that transgender people, especially transgender people, face.

Yet the debate over the inclusion of transgender athletes, especially women and girls, has become a political hotspot in recent years, especially among conservatives.

So far this year, Iowa and South Dakota have passed legislation banning transgender women and girls from participating in sports teams based on their gender at accredited schools and colleges. And last year, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia passed similar sports bans, infuriating LGBTQ advocates who claim conservatives create a problem where there is not one.

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