What started out as a record-breaking competitor for the Harvard University women’s swim team has been transformed in the space of a year into a member of the men’s swim team instead.
According to Swimming World, Schuyler 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.
However, after graduating in 2014, she took a year off to come out as transgendered and undergo gender reassignment surgery to become “man”. The gender switch means Bailar will be the first transgendered swimmer to compete on the men’s team at the collegiate level.
Since going public with her new identity in May, Bailar has posted pictures of his/her transition from women to man on Instagram – photos that show her metamorphosis to encourage other young people coping with gender identity issues.
As a woman, she was a record-breaker in the pool but as a man, Bailar’s ability to meet or beat his fellow men’s team members will be sharply curtailed – even with hormone therapy to build muscle and body mass needed to win.
For its part, Harvard is thrilled to have Bailar on their team even though he/she will be stellar achiever on the team.
“I want Schuyler on my team for the same reasons I want all of my athletes,” Harvard men’s coach Kevin Tyrrell told Swimming World. “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.”
Moving to the men’s team for former women is easier than moving to the woman’s team as a former man. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) office of “inclusion”:
“As a core value, the NCAA believes in and is committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators.”
“The Office of Inclusion will provide or enable programming and education, which sustains foundations of a diverse and inclusive culture across dimensions of diversity including, but not limited to age, race, sex, national origin, class, creed, educational background, disability, gender expression, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation and work experiences.”
Under NCAA guidelines, 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 that it will be difficult to compete with men as a former women but believes that being true to his/her chosen gender identity was more important saying that, as a girl, she was depressed in high school from trying to fit in to gender norms adding that feels far happier now.