Florida Governor Ron DeSantis misgenders trans swimmer Lia Thomas and and signs proclamation denouncing her win

Lia Thomas Ron DeSantis
Lia Thomas, Emma Weyant, Erica Sullivan and Brooke Forde stand with their medals following the race. Pic: Getty

Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis has signed a proclamation claiming that Emma Weyant ,who came in second, was the rightful winner of the highest US national college swimming title – an event she lost to transgender athlete Lia Thomas.


DeSantis, a Trump ally who is seen as a leading presidential contender for the 2024 election, said second-place entrant Emma Weyant had “the fastest time of any woman in college athletics” and is the deserved winner in a signed proclamation 


Last week Thomas became the first known transgender athlete to win the title, taking victory in the women’s 500-yard freestyle in Atlanta.

Lia Thomas
Lia Thomas at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

DeSantis claimed the result “undermined” the competition whilst shamelessly misgendering Thomas, in a post (below) that said:

“The NCAA is basically taking efforts to destroy women’s athletics, they’re trying to undermine the integrity of the competition and they’re crowning somebody else the women’s champion and we think that’s wrong.

“They are putting ideology ahead of opportunity for women athletes and I think that there are just some people that are afraid to speak out and say what they are doing, but that is what they are doing.”


Thomas swam for the Pennsylvanian men’s team for three seasons before starting hormone replacement therapy and coming out as trans in 2019.

US swimming updated its policy in February to allow transgender athletes to swim in elite events, alongside criteria that mitigates any unfair advantage and “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness… for all who compete”.


The NCAA declined to comment on the Governor’s position when approached by Reuters.   


DeSantis, who is a supporter of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay’ bill and is widely seen as a leading presidential contender in 2024, is the man who will ultimately sign the legislation targeting LGBTQ+ individuals into law, a process he said on Tuesday (22 March) would happen “relatively soon”.


DeSantis recently hit out at Disney after the corporation cut off his money paused all political donations in the Florida state following extensive public backlash to the company’s muted response on the harmful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation.


Yesterday (22 March) LGBTQ+ Disney employees, along with allies, staged a walkout to protest the company’s position and lack of visible representation within their productions. Various celebrities and brands (some below) posted in support of workers, using the hashtag #DisneySayGay.


Although Disney issues several variants of the same apology across their multiples platforms yesterday, people demanded visible action rather than words.