University Of Michigan’s Women’s Water Polo Club Team Allows Trans Athlete, 31, To Compete In National Championship

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: L.G.B.T. activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City. The group gathered to speak out against the Trump administration's stance toward transgender people. Last week, The New York Times reported on an unreleased administration memo that proposes a strict biological definition of gender based on a person's genitalia at birth. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

OAN’s James Meyers
2:55 PM – Thursday, May 2, 2024

Despite receiving heavy criticism, a transgender athlete is scheduled to compete in a women’s water polo tournament at Texas A&M University for the second straight year.


Alicia Paans, is a graduate student and a member of the University of Michigan club water polo team. Paans played for the school last year when they won the national title against the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB).

Paans scored multiple times in the two dominating matches leading up the championship, beating Virginia 17-5 and Washington 17-6. 

At the beginning of the year, the Collegiate Water Polo Association released its policy and appeal process that would allow trans athletes to compete in their preferred gender competition.

“The Collegiate Water Polo Association is committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable sports environment for all those who wish to participate,” the policy stated. “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.”

According to Reduxx, The Independent Council On Women’s Sport (ICONS) co-founder Marshi Smith stated “Their discriminatory policy announcement came after they had crowned the University of Michigan team with a national title, despite utilizing a male player — a secret weapon not accessible to other women’s teams in the tournament.”

Additionally, the league allows “transgender athletes who identify as female” to compete in the women’s and co-ed leagues as long as two requirements are met. 

In order to be eligible, the athlete must provide a letter of confirmation confirming their gender identity, and a medical validation which includes either a testosterone level below “10 nmo/L within 60 days prior to their first competition,” or written confirmation from a health care physician. 

Reduxx also stated that according to the ICONS, the parents of Paans’ opponents have confirmed that the athlete uses female locker rooms and facilities while competing. 

Paans was named player of the week in a March 12th post on the teams Instagram account. The post described the 31-year-old as a graduate student from Tallahassee, Florida, studying social work.

The University of Michigan women’s club water polo team kicks off the 2024 tournament against Texas Tech on Friday, May 3rd.

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