Woman recruited for Harvard’s female swimming team swaps sex, will swim for men instead

Woman recruited for Harvard’s female swimming team swaps sex, will swim for men instead
Schuyler Bailar, before (left) and after

Schuyler Bailar had something she wanted to get off her chest before heading off to college. And judging from pictures she posted on Instagram (below), she managed the task — arranging to have her ample cleavage removed in a voluntary double mastectomy as part of her transition from female to male.

This poses a problem for Harvard University women’s swim team, which recruited her for her considerable natatorial talents, which will now go to the men’s squad.

As reported by Swimming World, Bailar was a top female swimmer in the country in high school, helping to set a high school record in the girls’ 400-meter medley relay. But after graduating in 2014, she took a gap year, during which she came out as transgender and underwent surgery to transition to living as a man. The switch reportedly means Bailar will be the first openly transgender swimmer to compete at the collegiate level.

While the transition took place back in 2014, it was only in the spring that Bailar fully committed to joining the men’s team instead of the women’s one. Since going public with her new identity in May, Bailar has taken to Instagram to chronicle her journey through a series of pictures and encourage other young people coping with gender identity issues:

How you see them, now you don't.
How you see them, now you don’t.

Bailar’s switch not only leaves the female team in the lurch. It also has a potential detriment to the male team since her ability to contribute to as a competitor will be substantially curtailed. As a woman, she was a record-breaker, but men are substantially faster swimmers, and even with hormone therapy Bailar is unlikely to be as elite as she once was.

Then and now

Still, Harvard has been fully supportive, and coaches say Bailar has plenty to add to the team, even if it isn’t necessarily in the form of top times.

As men’s coach Kevin Tyrrell told Swimming World:

I want Schuyler on my team for the same reasons I want all of my athletes. I believe he wants to push himself academically and athletically. When all of our swimmers and divers have this mindset everyone improves daily in every aspect of their lives. This process will contribute to them being outstanding members of society.

Because of the physical advantages enjoyed by men, NCAA rules treat transgendered individuals differently based on their “birth gender.” Female-to-male transgendered may immediately switch to a men’s team without restriction, as long as they obtain a medical exception for testosterone treatment (as testosterone supplements are otherwise a banned substance). A male-to-female transgender must receive testosterone suppression for at least a year before being allowed on a women’s team.

Bailar acknowledges it will be very difficult to compete at the level she once did, but said being true to her chosen gender identity was more important in the long run. Bailar says she was depressed in high school from trying to fit in to gender norms, and feels far happier now.

Still, she hasn’t lost the fire to win.

“I have no particular goals set like I did on the women’s team,” Bailar told Swimming World. “[But] I’m competitive as hell and I want to do some winning and beating too.”

This report, by Blake Neff, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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