Henig is a transgender man, and he swims for Yale’s women’s team since he has not started taking hormones. “I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn’t hinge on whether there’s more or less testosterone running through my veins,” Henig wrote in a 2021 New York Times essay about coming out during the pandemic. “At least, that’s what I’ll try to remember when I put on the women’s swimsuit for competition and am reminded of a self I no longer feel attached to.”

As the swimmer explains to Allure, NCAA rules prohibit players from wearing t-shirts blazed with political statements or endorsements during competition. So when he decided to bring a message onto the pool deck, he had to get a little creative. “I thought, ‘OK, I can’t put this on a shirt. Where else can I put it?,'” Henig says.  

After a friend with contacts at the NCAA confirmed there are no rules about writing on skin, Henig decided to bust out the Sharpie. No one knew about the plan ahead of time, except for his roommate and the friend who wrote it on his arm. (The angle was too awkward for Henig to do it himself.) 

But the response was instant: Henig says that a group of Georgia Tech students who worked at the aquatic center came up to ask for a photo with him featuring the words. Thomas eventually asked Henig to write it on her arm, too.

Iszac Henig and Lia Thomas hug during a competition earlier this year.

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