A 50-year-old biological male competed last week against 29 female minors at a swimming competition in Canada.
Melody Wiseheart, a biological male previously known as Nicholas J. Cepeda, was competing in the Richmond Hill Aquatic Centre’s Fall Classic.
Despite the fact that Wiseheart’s club offers programs “for every age group from toddlers, kids and teenagers to master’s swimmers,” Wiseheart primarily competes in the 15 and older girl’s division.
Last weekend, Wiseheart placed 21st out of 30 in the 200-meter freestyle. Apart from Wiseheart, the oldest female competitor in the event was 17.
Wiseheart, who is also a professor at Toronto’s York University, has competed against minors in several swimming competitions. Last year alone, Wiseheart raced in the 2023 Annual Mayor’s Cup, the SCAR Pan Am 2023 Invitational, the GTA Skins Invitational, the Huronia Region Short Course Championship, and the SCAR Winter Classic.
The second oldest competitor in these competitions was born in 2000. Most participants were between the ages of 15 and 18.
And no rules exist preventing the much older competitor from participating.
According to Wiseheart’s club’s Bill of Rights, each swimmer has the right to “participate in a safe and healthy environment” and the “right to play as a child and not as an adult.”
Despite there being different master clubs and swimming competitions designed specifically for adults, the 15+ swimming category doesn’t have a formal policy specifying the maximum age of its competitors. However, in June, Wiseheart competed in the 2023 Ontario Masters Provincial Championships.
Neither is Wiseheart barred from competing against females, in accordance with Swimming Canada’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion policy, which cites gender identity.
According to a blog created by Wiseheart’s wife, Sandi, “Melody thought of herself as a girl from a very young age” but didn’t transition until after they were married.
“Because there was a mistake in my body when I was born: I got the brain of a girl, and the feelings of a girl, but some boy parts on the outside,” the blog says. “I’m changing things so I can be a girl on the outside, too, but it takes a long time. I know it’s confusing, but in a couple of months, I won’t have the beard anymore and I’ll start looking more like who I really am.”
According to records online, Wiseheart has been swimming and competing with the Orangeville Otters since 2017.