Emma Weyant finished in second place in the 500 free behind the biological male Lia Thomas
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an official proclamation on Tuesday recognizing Emma Weyant, a Florida native and Virginia swimmer, the winner of the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships last week and not University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Last week, Thomas made history when he won the 500 free becoming the first openly transgender swimmer national champion. Weyant, a freshman Cavaliers swimmer who was born in Sarasota, finished a full second behind Thomas in the race. Thomas finished the event with a time of 4:33.24 and Weyant finished with a time of 4:34.99.
DeSantis criticized the NCAA’s transgender participation policy, which allowed Thomas to race.
“By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud,” the Republican governor tweeted.
He continued to say: ‘Whereas, a male identifying as a woman was allowed to compete in and was declared the winner of the race by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Emma was determined to have come in second place.’
He also said the NCAA’s ‘actions served to erode opportunities for women athletes and perpetuate a fraud against women athletes as well as the public at large,’ citing Thomas’ ‘biological sex’ as a reason.
‘Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and it is wrong to allow ideology to erode these opportunities as is happening in other states, and the preservation of women-specific athletics teams or sports is necessary to promote equality of athletic opportunities,’ DeSantis said in the proclamation.
Last year, Florida signed a bill into law called The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which became effective on the first day of Pride month, that banned trans-female athletes from competing in public high school and college sports, WFTS reported at the time.
The bill recognized athletes’ genders based on the biological sex that is listed on their birth certificate.
‘She’s been a superstar her whole career,’ DeSantis said at a press conference on Tuesday, ahead of signing the proclamation. ‘To compete at that level is very, very difficult. And you don’t just roll out of bed and do it. That takes grit. That takes determination.’
“In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle.”
The tweet was accompanied by the proclamation in which DeSantis cites the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which he signed in June 2021 and “specifies that an athletic team or sport that is designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to student of the male sex, based on the student’s biological sex listed on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth. …”
The NCAA, University of Pennsylvania or the University of Virginia didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
DeSantis first announced he would issue the proclamation on Monday.
Weyant, 20, is an accomplished swimmer. She qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team last summer and was a part of the 400-meter individual medley race in which she won a silver medal. She also has a silver medal in World Championships competition.
Thomas’ participation in NCAA competition has stirred a debate over whether it is fair transgender females compete against biological females.
The NCAA updated its transgender participation policy back in January to defer to the guidance of each sport’s governing body. The NCAA announced that its policy would become effective in March, starting with the Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
USA Swimming updated its policy shortly after requiring transgender athletes who are competing at an elite level to have small levels of testosterone — half of what Thomas was allowed to compete with — for at least 36 months before being eligible, but the NCAA said weeks later that the Administrative Subcommittee of the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CMAS) decided that it wouldn’t alter its testosterone guidance, stating that “implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.”