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Transgender woman faces backlash after world title win over 14-time female fencing champion
Image credit: X screenshot

Transgender woman faces backlash after world title win over 14-time female fencing champion

A transgender woman won an eighth world championship in fencing on Sunday at the 2023 FIE Veteran Fencing World Championships.

Liz Kocab, 71, competed in the Vet Women's Epee against 14-time champion Marja-Liisa Someroja from Finland. The competition took place in Florida. This is Kocab's second win in the 70+ category of competition, per Fox News.

Kocab said that he competed simply because he "wanted to support USA Fencing."

"I really did. Otherwise, I was actually thinking of stepping away. But the fact that it was in America, I thought that was important to support the USA. This is my way of saying thanks to USA Fencing."

However, Kocab has come under scrutiny for being a biological man and competing in the women's category. USA Fencing decided to institute its own policies on transgender and nonbinary competition in November 2022, but this did not stop some from speaking out about the situation.

Transgender critic and former Division 1 swimmer for University of Kentucky Riley Gaines was quick to call out Kocab as an "entitled cheat," noting that "winning a title as a male in the women's category doesn't make you a champion," according to the Daily Mail.

The fencing organization apparently allows athletes to "participate in USA Fencing-sanctioned events in a manner consistent with their gender identity/expression, regardless of the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth."

USA Fencing put out a news release, saying that the decision was an "important first step toward expanding access to the sport of fencing and creating inclusive and safe spaces that promote equality and fairness for all."

"It is critical that we protect the rights of nonbinary and transgender athletes in fencing," USA Fencing CEO Phil Andrews said. "Even as we plan to conduct more scientific research into the physiological effects of gender transition as they pertain specifically to the sport of fencing, we remain unanimously and steadfastly supportive of transgender athletes having their place in fencing.

"To be clear, even as this issue evolves, our support of transgender athletes will not waver."

Transgender female veteran, junior, and senior athletes have specific requirements for national ranking competitions.

"Athletes being treated with testosterone suppression medication, for the purposes of USA Fencing-sanctioned competitions may continue to compete in men’s events, but may only compete in women’s events after completing one calendar year (12 months) of testosterone suppression treatment. Proof of compliant hormone therapy must be provided prior to competition," the organization says.

There are no details available about when Kocab decided to transition to be a woman.

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