Roanoke College transgender swimmer controversy brings up topic of biological advantage

The swimmer has since withdrawn from the team but it’s not stopping people from calling on the NCAA for change

ROANOKE, Va. – With Roanoke College’s Women’s Swim Team calling on the NCAA to address trans athletes in sports, the question of biological advantage continues to raise eyebrows.

The team publicly spoke out on Thursday against transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.

Recently the team says they went through an emotional rollercoaster as they were told a transgender female would be joining the team this season.

According to Roanoke College, a transgender student — who has not been identified — competed on the men’s swim team in 2021 as a first-year student, then took a year off from competition. Roanoke College said the student asked permission to swim on the women’s team this fall.

Current NCAA policy allows transgender athletes to compete.

However, even with the athletes fulfilling the requirements including testosterone suppressants and multiple testosterone tests throughout the season, people still argue there is a biological advantage for transgender females.

Paula Scanlan has been a forefront advocator for this issue after being teammates with Lia Thomas, the transgender swimmer who won an NCAA Championship race in 2022.

“On average, men are taller,” Scanlan said. “Men have strong bones, their hips are narrower, they have bigger hearts, they have bigger lungs. Overall those factors are not affected by lowering your testosterone levels or suppressing them.”

While Thomas did catch the eye of many people across the nation, Scanlan says it needed to happen.

“It needed a situation like Lia Thomas winning an NCAA Championship to really paint the picture of how completely insane this is,” Scanlan said.

Roanoke Vice Mayor Joe Cobb has always been a supporter of the transgender community and says the city of Roanoke is very accepting of anyone.

“The people that I know who are transgender, who are athletes understand the challenges they face and wanting to be active as an athlete in their sport of choice,” Cobb said.

The NCAA’s policy on transgender students is at least in effect for the rest of the school year.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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