Ivy League Champ Iszac Henig Transitions to Yale Men’s Team, Tells NY Times: ‘Living in Authenticity Makes Me Stronger’

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Iszac Henig was an NCAA qualifier in March at the NCAA Championships, earning All-American honors.

It was a historic moment as Henig was in the 100-yard freestyle final, alongside Penn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

With Henig, the race had two transgender swimmers competing, a first in NCAA history, though each had a very different situation. Henig has since transitioned to the Yale men’s swim team.

After winning the Ivy League women’s title in the 50 freestyle, Henig is competing in men’s competition this year. The key element to that participation is feeling where he belongs, and not about competition and success.

Henig wrote on op/ed piece for the New York Times about the transition.

“The first time I remember feeling different from the people around me was in fourth grade. I felt like I’d been thrust onstage for a show without having been given a script. Every interaction seemed wrong. Recognizing my bisexuality in seventh grade gave me a degree of comfort, like a candle held out against dark confusion, but even then, so much of myself still felt impossible to discern,” Henig wrote.

Henig said that swimming was almost a sanctuary.

“I felt most appreciated and closest to my true self when I was swimming, the sport that I’d been doing competitively since age 4. In the water I could focus on the joy of racing. There is no feeling like pushing yourself to catch up to the person ahead of you, surprising yourself with what you’re capable of. My strength and musculature — traditionally masculine values — were celebrated,” Henig wrote. … “But the more I clung to womanhood, the worse I felt. Realizing this with the help of my therapist, I dived deeper into queerness, exploring the balance of masculinity and femininity, especially with presentation in clothing.”

The support system of Henig has made the most difference.

“I’ve been fortunate to receive so much support from my communities, especially from fellow trans athletes. I’m honored to be part of a group strong enough to withstand all of the undue attacks on our participation and personhood,” Henig said. “Living in authenticity makes me a stronger, better man. ‌Being trans is one of the least interesting things about me.”

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5 months ago

Amazing! I am so glad to know this story of progress, self-confidence and success 🙂

4 months ago

Didn’t the DDR load their women swimmers up on testosterone too? How did that work out for them?

Tere O’Rourke
4 months ago

Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck at Yale. Living authentically is being true to the world. Swim on!

Lindsey Lyles
4 months ago

Those poor men that have to compete in this situation… Imagine their feelings if they lose to them! Protect mens sports people

Karl J
4 months ago

Who cares? It’s their own personal business. This does not need to make headlines.

Annie Strenk
4 months ago

Total BS….just amazingly an insult to one’s intelligence!!…and so unfair!!