Harvard Transgender Swimmer Dives Into New Waters


October 20, 2015
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
What happens when your high school 100-meter breast stroke time is almost as fast as the women's all-time best at Harvard, the school you've been eying for as long as you could remember - but you determine you can no longer repress the feeling that you are a man trapped inside a woman's body? Such was the case for swimmer Schuyler Bailer, who underwent partial surgery, now identifies as a man and will compete on the Harvard men's swim team. The NCAA allowed Bailer to choose what team to swim for and Harvard’s women's swim coach supports Bailer's decision even if it means losing a top recruit.

What happens when your high school 100-meter breast stroke time is almost as fast as the women's all-time best at Harvard, the school you've been eying for as long as you could remember - but you determine you can no longer repress the feeling that you are a man trapped inside a woman's body? Such was the case for swimmer Schuyler Bailer, who underwent partial surgery, now identifies as a man and will compete on the Harvard men's swim team. The NCAA allowed Bailer to choose what team to swim for and Harvard’s women's swim coach supports Bailer's decision even if it means losing a top recruit.

Bailer took a year off following high school graduation and made the decision to identify as a man after having repressed these feelings from a very young age. Bailer claimed, "I had worked my whole life to be on that team," and that the coming-out-of-the-closet experience was stressful enough. Bailer is realistic about future stresses, such as competing with a new gender, locker room etiquette and media scrutiny. However, transgender athletes have been around since 1977, when Renée Richard joined the women's tennis professional tour after the New York Supreme Court had intervened. Another recent, well-known case is that of Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner, who transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner. Is the male to female transition the same as female to male transition, when it comes to athletics?

Various organizations at the junior, high school and collegiate level have begun implementing rules that allow transgender students to participate on the basis of their expressed gender identities. Even at the highest level of sport competition, the Olympics, athletes are able to participate only if they have had their gender-reassignment surgery and at least two years of hormone therapy. In the NCAA, men transitioning to women who have not undergone sex-reassignment surgery must take testosterone suppressants for one year before they can compete on the women's team. (This means Bailer would be allowed to continue on the women's team if he has not yet starting taking testosterone). Though Bailer's transition has been welcomed and supported by the NCAA and his team, he may still face discrimination and scrutiny.

In your opinion, should transgender individuals be allowed to compete with and against their biological gender group? Leave us your thoughts below in the comment box and be sure to check out our large list of sports scholarships.

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Discuss

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Reality Check  on  11/3/2015 12:30:22 PM commented:

Sorry, but biological facts must take precedence when it comes to athletic competition. Otherwise, the entire point of competing becomes a sham, and you might as well quit holding contests of athletic skill. Whatever mental beliefs someone holds to about their own identity are irrelevant to the fact that male humans and female humans are different biological organisms.

Rosa L  on  10/26/2015 4:10:47 PM commented:

In my deepest thoughts i think that an individual shall be treated equal regardless of there transgender and allow them to choose what they feel of doin through self-interest or group. As an human being you have a choice as free will.

Fatima S  on  10/24/2015 7:19:47 PM commented:

In my opinion, I do think that transgender individuals should be allowed to compete with and against their biological gender group because, every person should be allowed to show who they truly are even if society disagrees with them. It also can help the transgender group to show the world that, just because they happen to be different, they can still be treated equal. In addition to these reasons, nobody should be restricted to do anything they may wish to do.

Amaya I  on  10/21/2015 10:29:46 PM commented:

I think that this is great, for such a long time transgender people have been discriminated so much and it touches my heart to hear and read that not only do people allow transgender's to compete in their choice of gender sport, but in fact in courage and help them out.

Kaylee C  on  10/21/2015 7:57:12 PM commented:

Yes, they should be able to. People have to be comfortable with what they have and their body. If they're not, then they have the right to change it. It's their body, not any one else's.

Kyla S  on  10/21/2015 12:44:41 PM commented:

You can't change a persons aspects of who they are. The mind is a powerful thing, and if someone knows and feels that they are not who they are then it's not as human beings to disagree. It's like the time when I was in 7th grade, and I was playing field hockey. We played this team who had a boy on they're team. He was good and probably got bullied for even playing against girls, but I didn't see it as a disturbance, because you can't stop people for doing what they want to do and he was happy.

RF  on  10/21/2015 6:24:29 AM commented:

If someone would read the history of Harvard College, one would think the whole idea is disgusting.

Lma 0  on  10/20/2015 11:29:24 PM commented:

Lmao. Lmao lmao lmao. Most of these comments are too much. Have fun changing human biology. In every aspect but physical, I am a wolf.

Farhiya Muhidin  on  10/20/2015 10:09:06 PM commented:

I'm real against discrimination! To me it just bullying someone and making some feel sad about who they're. Why're we so mean to some that is different. This supposed to be 21st-century why are we still discouraging people and what gives us the right to discriminate. If we had people on this earth that did the same things, life would be dull. Stop with this discrimination

Giselle Mandujano  on  10/20/2015 9:52:48 PM commented:

I do not think that transgender individuals should be allowed to compete with and against their biological gender group because it would not be fair in sports because men are stronger than women and in a woman spot if a transgender male joins obviously he's going to win.

Lindsay K  on  10/20/2015 9:26:46 PM commented:

I personally don't think so because it could e uncomfortable to that specific gender, but if they feel that they should have an equal right to do so then they can but jut know there could be conflict that could occur.

Kia C  on  10/20/2015 9:18:46 PM commented:

Absolutely not. I feel like it's unfair to a natural woman to have have to compete basically with a men in a wig. Men are naturally stronger ever on there sickest day hence why women don't play pro football. Someone (the woman) will get hurt. Therefore let's just keep it fair and let men play with men and women play with women.

Pia N.  on  10/20/2015 8:10:04 PM commented:

Transgenders experience a lot of unnecessary scrutiny for doing things that any normal person should be able to do. People undergo surgeries that enhance or change their physical appearance all the time and aren't looked at any differently for it. So why is there such a mind blowing disparity between the treatment of a woman who enhances her bosoms versus a man who does the same? I think that people should be able to participate in the activities aligned with their sex whether they were born with the reproductive organs of that sex or not. I despite the stereotype that boys are naturally better athletes than girls, I don't think being born a certain gender will prove to be more beneficial in a race because sports are learned. It isn't something you're born knowing. You're trained to do things a certain way and if that makes you more competent than a competitor, then so be it. There will be prejudices along the way, indubitably, but everyone deserves to be able to be who they are and do what they love.

Moriah W  on  10/20/2015 7:16:34 PM commented:

Transgender people are just people who feel a certain way about their gender. They cannot choose how they feel inside. One of my best friends is transgender and I know he gets a lot of haterid because of it and personally I don't see any reason to hate because in all honesty him being transgender does not have any effect on me what so ever. So what if they are biologically a girl or a guy they have a right to happiness and we can't take that away from them.

William B  on  10/20/2015 5:13:44 PM commented:

If you were born a certain gender you should compete with that gender, let's say a man who has a higher muscle mass by genetics as scientists have already confirmed chooses to compete in womens as a trans, it'd be unfair

Sarah D.  on  10/20/2015 4:34:27 PM commented:

I feel like they should be allowed to swim/dive for whichever group fits them the best/that they want to be in.

Tanya B  on  10/20/2015 4:17:57 PM commented:

Really someone has an issue? What is new ? It's part of being human. Does this age think it's the only group of humans to have problems ? There is not one human condition that is new. What is New is the tolerance of people as a whole to accept feelings and wants and desires as good and right and factual. So NO there are no exceptions for the transgender. You made your choice now live with the consequences. If you want to be a man who is really a woman than do that . BUT don't expect everyone to bend the rules bc you feel like a man. Such is life . It's simple . Some days I don't feeeeeel good about who I am either. I feeeeel ill, I feel odd and out of place. I don't expect the world and every into tuition to change bc I feel for a minute .

Jessie P  on  10/20/2015 3:07:17 PM commented:

Transgender individuals are whatever gender they identify as. We shouldn't have a binary of genders and roles for the two. It creates conflict. It instills us with unnecessary and harmful stereotypes! It's 2015. If you think the way we're going as a society-- continuing gender based prejudice and hate crimes toward trangender individuals-- is the best we can do, or even that we should continue those actions.... Bye.

Mary H  on  10/20/2015 3:03:07 PM commented:

I don't think it's fair for men to compete as women because they naturally have more testosterone even if it is regulated. That doesn't mean they are necessarily better but that definitely gives them an upper hand

Mollie P  on  10/20/2015 3:03:05 PM commented:

Shame on those who say the NCAA, or any agency for that matter, should not allows transgender individual play with the team they identify with! Isn't one of the points of testosterone to help the suppression of muscle mass increase? Absolutely any individual should be allowed to play with the sex they identify with. Expecially if they have been physical transformation!

Caitlin R  on  10/20/2015 2:56:44 PM commented:

Of course they should. They're just as human as we are. It's a shame we live in a world where one group biggers itself because others are different.

Brandon chin  on  10/20/2015 2:28:40 PM commented:

Although many people may believe that transgender men should not be able to compete against their biological gender, I strongly disagree with the statement. When in sports, I believe that there should not be a barrier in between genders. Woman should be able to play freely with men and vice versa. There should be no such thing as "men are better at football because women are not as tough and strong," because men and women should have the choice to choose whether or not to play the sport of an opposite gender. It is their right to choose who they play the sport with.

Megan J  on  10/20/2015 2:08:10 PM commented:

I definitely think transgender individuals should be permitted to compete with those of opposite sexes. It seems wrong for anyone to be denied a right related to their gender identity. He wanted to be a part of the gender group he felt he identified with.

Valeria V.  on  10/20/2015 2:08:07 PM commented:

There is many people in the world who are not comfortable in their own body and feel as if they were made for the opposite sex. For this reason being, many of these people are athletes who argue of being in the opposite sex but regulations don't see the same thing. Trangenders shouldn't be allowed to play with the opposite sex because a man is always stronger than a girl. So if a man became a women it wouldn't be the same equality. Just because a man has girls body parts doesn't take away the strength they carry.

Kim p  on  10/20/2015 2:07:07 PM commented:

Absolutely not. This is a disgrace You either have Dna of a male or female and the physical attributes that come with that dna. It will give an unfair advantage especially males saying they are females. Shame on the NCAA

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