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Suncoast split on DeSantis’ slam of transgender swimmer

Transgender debate heating up in Florida.
Transgender debate heating up in Florida.(WWSB)
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 9:13 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2022 at 9:14 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Gov. Ron DeSantis’ controversial stance on transgender participation in a recent collegiate swimming competition is causing ripples along the Suncoast.

Gov. Ron DeSantis this week criticized the NCAA for allowing declaring Emma Weyant of Sarasota as the “rightful winner” of the 500-yard freestyle race at the recent NCAA national championships.

Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, won the race by nearly two seconds.

“If you look at what the NCAA has done by allowing basically men compete in women’s athletics, in this case the swimming, you had the No. 1 woman that finished is from Sarasota,” said DeSantis.

Ralai Lama, a transgender woman from Sarasota, says she is very disappointed with the governor’s stance on this issue.

“We just want the same rights as everyone else, but yet there are hurdles and different roadblocks in the way,” said Lama.

Some swimmers ABC7 talked with say a transgender woman has a physical advantage in athletic competition.

“I’m in full support of people being who they want to be,” said Sheri Hart, a swimmer from Manatee County. “But I do think when it comes to women’s sports, that we need to draw the line, and we need to support our women and our girls and make it a level playing field.”

Last year, DeSantis signed legislation prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports at high schools and colleges in Florida.

ABC7 reached out to Emma Weyant’s mom, Kristi, as well as the Sarasota Sharks Swim club. We have yet to hear back from them.

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