Reka Gyorgy, a former swimmer at Virginia Tech, was among those who lent their support for female athletes in an amicus brief filed to the Supreme Court last week.
The brief was filed in support of the state of West Virginia and its Save Women’s Sports law. The legislation seeks to keep transgender student-athletes at all level of competition to play against those with the same biological gender instead of the gender they identify as. A preliminary injunction dissolved in January when a federal judge ruled the law didn’t violate Title IX protections but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate a preliminary injunction.
Gyorgy made headlines last year during the NCAA Championships when she blasted the governing body of collegiate sports for allowing Lia Thomas, of Penn, to compete against biological women as a transgender female competitor. Gyorgy was one of 67 athletes, coaches and family members who called on the Supreme Court to vacate the preliminary injunction.
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“I was a senior competing in my last swim meet at the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships on March 17th, 2022. I swam the 500 freestyle in preliminaries where I got 17th, which means I did not make it back to the finals and was first alternate,” her statement read. “I watched Lia Thomas [a biological male] from the pool deck win a women’s national title in a finals that I deserved to be in because the rules in place did not support biological women. I couldn’t help but cry and feel frustrated, angry, and sad. It hurt me, my team, and other women in the pool. A year later, there is still no response to my letter to the NCAA. This is an ongoing, painful reminder of how little all the women at that swim meet matter to the people running our schools and sports competitions.”
Gyorgy had missed the cut-off to get into the consolation final in the 500 free. She finished in 17th place and in the letter argued she missed out because of Thomas.
Thomas finished with a 4:33.82 in the preliminaries and later became a national champion when she won the race with a time of 4:33.24. Gyorgy had a time of 4:41.06. The top 16 advanced to the final.
Gyorgy wrote a letter in March 2022 after the championships and posted it on her private Instagram account.
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“With all due respect, I would like to address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers,” the letter read. “Everyone has heard and known about transgender swimmer, Lia Thomas, and her case including all the issues and concerns that her situation brought into our sport. I’d like to point out that I respect and fully stand with Lia Thomas; I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice. She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right. On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women.
“I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future. It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmers who are competing in the NCAA.”
Gyorgy, a Hungarian who competed in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2016 Summer Olympics, explained it felt the last spot to get into the consolation final was taken from her.
“It feels like the final spot was taken from me because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete,” she wrote. “I know you could say I had the opportunity to swim faster and make the top 16, but this situation makes it a bit different and I can’t help but be angry or sad. It hurts me, my team and other women in the pool. One spot was taken away from the girl who got 9th in the 500 free and didn’t make it back to the A final preventing her from being an All-American. Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet.”
Gyorgy added the NCAA “knew what was coming this past week” and wrote the media circus around the NCAA Championships this week put in the shadows the incredible performances from other competitors.
“It is the result of the NCAA and their lack of interest in protecting their athletes. I ask the NCAA takes time to think about all the other biological women in swimming, try to think how they would feel if they would be in our shoes. Make the right changes for our sport and for a better future in swimming,” the letter concluded.”
From collegiate athletics to high school sports, a debate has grown over whether having transgender women and girls compete against biological females and girls is really an equal playing field.
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Recently, a Vermont Christian school was banned from future state-sanctioned tournaments for its girls basketball team’s refusal to play another opponent who had a transgender girl on the team.