University Of Michigan Trans-Identifying Male Sparks Backlash For Competing In Women’s Water Polo Championship A Second Time

The male athlete is a 31-year-old graduate student.
Sports, swimming pool and girl with ball for water polo for training, exercise and fitness with team. Professional sport, teamwork and female athlete focus for winning game, competition and match
(Getty Images)

A trans-identifying male athlete sparked backlash after he was scheduled to compete in a women’s water polo championship for a second time.

Alicia, formerly Johnny, Paans, 31, a graduate student at the University of Michigan and member of the women’s water polo team, is set to compete starting Friday in this year’s Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship at Texas A&M.

Last year, Paans was playing on the women’s team when they beat University of California Santa Barbara 8-6 in the championship game.

He scored several goals in the two games leading up to the championship game. Both games were blowout wins for Michigan.

The women’s water polo team recently promoted Paans as “player of the week” on their Instagram page.

Paans also reportedly uses the women’s locker rooms, according to the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS), which cited parents of Paans’ opponents.

“This year’s national championships are shaping up to be a tragic deja vu of domination for the female opponents who simply seek a fair chance to succeed,” ICONS co-founder Marshi Smith said, according to Reduxx.

Backlash erupted on social media, too. One X user compared the situation to “allowing LeBron James into the WNBA.”

“Other than possibly basketball, water polo may involve the most dramatic difference in ability/performance between men & women,” the X user wrote. “I played H2O polo, and the difference is incredible between men and women… starting with a HUGE advantage with hand size, but also lower body strength to get out of the water, and upper body strength to rip shots. plus HUGE difference in acceleration.”


Back in January, the Collegiate Water Polo Association released a policy on trans-identifying athletes competing on the team of the opposite sex.

The policy says trans-identifying male athletes must provide proof that their testosterone levels are below a certain level. Athletes may also appeal if they believe their circumstances are “exceptional,” the policy says.

“The Collegiate Water Polo Association is committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable sports environment for all those who wish to participate,” the policy states. “This policy aims to provide guidelines for the participation of transgender athletes at the collegiate club level, ensuring fairness, respect, and equal opportunities for all.”

The controversy comes after earlier this month, the Biden administration unveiled new Title IX regulations blocking schools from enforcing blanket bans on transgender-identifying males in girls’ sports at public schools.

Title IX is the 1972 federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at schools that receive federal funding. The new rules are set to take effect in August.

Create a free account to join the conversation!

Already have an account?

Log in

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  University Of Michigan Trans-Identifying Male Sparks Backlash For Competing In Women’s Water Polo Championship A Second Time