Trans-Identified Males Racking Up Wins in Women’s Fencing As Trans Activist Officials Claim They Are Fine With Female Athletes Being At A “Disadvantage”

A number of trans-identified males have been dominating women’s fencing championships despite the fact that many of them floundered in the men’s category. A source has now revealed that many women in the sport fear losing opportunities if they speak out against the inclusion of men in women’s fencing.

In November of 2022, USA Fencing adopted a Transgender and Nonbinary Athlete Policy which stated that division placement would be determined based on self-declared “gender identity” or “gender expression” rather than on biological sex.

“USA Fencing will not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, regardless of sex assigned at birth, or any other form of gender expression for participation in any division,” read the policy. “As such, athletes will be permitted 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.”

The policy also stipulated that an individual’s classification will remain unaltered when transferring over to the sporting category of the opposite sex. “Transgender athletes will be permitted to keep the fencing classification that was held prior to transitioning. For example, a transgender woman who held an A classification in the men’s division will keep her A classification in the women’s division.”

But Reduxx has now learned that USA Fencing had permitted males to self-identify into the women’s category for nearly a decade prior to the adoption of the new policy, resulting in a small number of trans-identified players dominating the sport. Of the five that have been identified, most of them had performed poorly while competing in the men’s category.

One transgender fencer, Eden Philpot, was exposed by an anonymous whistleblower who recently spoke with The Daily Mail. Philpot, whose given name is Evan, has obtained four gold medals, two silver and one for placing fifth and eighth within a matter of months.

Evan Philpot, 2014

Philpot’s wins, the source said, were “highly unique” given that he received medals in two differing disciplines – the foil and the saber – an accomplishment which is unprecedented in the women’s category. “No other competitor appears on the podium of both events aside from Eden. I don’t think I’ve seen it in my lifetime of fencing.”

Philpot had competed as a male for the University of North Carolina from 2013 to 2015. In his freshman year, he qualified for the NCAA Regionals, where he placed 17th in the foil. The following year, he switched to the saber.

Like Philpot, Rylie Rueda, previously known as Mateo, had a lackluster career in men’s fencing prior to identifying into the women’s category.

From 2016 to 2017, Rueda finished 38th at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Association Fall Invitational in the men’s division. According to a report on the Boston College (BC) website, Rueda continued to compete on the BC men’s fencing team in 2018, which ranked last overall following three matches against Harvard, Brandeis, and MIT.

In 2019, after switching to the women’s category, he was awarded the gold medal and title of Champion in the Women’s Epee at Boston College. In 2022, Rueda took first place at the NCAA Regionals in the women’s category.

Mateo Rueda competed against men before calling himself Rylie and taking top place in the women’s category at Boston College.

Despite having no self-identification policy at the time, evidence exists that USA Fencing was allowing males to self-identify into the women’s category for over a decade.

Elizabeth Kocab, previously known as Greg, has been participating in women’s fencing events since 2009, years before the transgender policy was officially implemented. During the course of his fencing career, Kocab has taken home at least 35 women’s gold medals, five silver, and eight bronze. In 2011, he was awarded the world gold medal for veteran women in Croatia.

Kocab began fencing in the women’s veteran category in 2010, having previously competed as a male. Records of awards and titles earned by Kocab in the men’s category are scarce; however, archival documents on the US Fencing website show Kocab placed fifth for the University of Detroit Mercy in the 1973 National Collegiate Fencing Championship.

In July, Kocab, was named the 2023 National Champ in the Vet-70 Women’s Epee. Despite being 71, Kocab is significantly physically larger than his elderly female counterparts.

Dawn Wilson, another man who identifies as transgender, was recently profiled positively by USA Fencing for Pride Month on their official Instagram account, and claims he was involved in the creation of the formal “inclusivity” policy for USA Fencing.

Wilson is currently rated 7th in the country in the Over 50 Women’s Division. According to his profile, Wilson is a two-time Women’s Veteran World Saber Champion, having received the title in both 2014 and 2015. He was also a US Veteran World Championship Team Member in 2017 and 2018 and has reached a world ranking of 14th on several occasions.

A vocal trans activist, Wilson has expressed disapproval over a bill in his home state that would prevent the medical transitioning of minors. Kentucky’s Senate Bill 150, which was blocked by a federal judge at the end of June at the behest of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), would prohibit health care providers in the state from administering puberty-halting drugs and performing “gender-affirming” surgeries on children.

Dawn Wilson

He currently sits on the board of the United States Fencing Association where he has served as the Kentucky Division Chair since 2013. Speaking with local outlet Spectrum News 1 in June, Wilson said he was involved in the creation of the transgender policy put in place last fall by USA Fencing.

“One of the things with USA Fencing, especially with belonging, we take that very seriously,” Wilson said. “Because if you don’t feel like you belong, if you feel like you don’t have any agency there, you’re not going to do well in the sport.”

But Wilson is far from the only trans activist seemingly exerting control over USA Fencing policy. Damien Lehfeldt, who also sits on the Board of Directors, recently publicly stated that he was unconcerned with fairness in the sport.

On August 30, Lehfeldt posted an article to his blog, The Fencing Coach, stating that “transgender women are women” and advising female athletes that “giving [male] athletes a sense of belonging and a will to live is more powerful than medals and competitive glory.”

In response, some social media users sent him anonymous messages asking him to clarify his position, seemingly bewildered that a USA Fencing official would so brazenly oppose fair opportunities for female athletes.

“Are you okay with cis females being at a disadvantage?” one person asked Lehfeldt in a question he posted to his Instagram story, to which he simply responded: “Yeah.”

Speaking to Reduxx, an anonymous source from within fencing revealed that many female athletes are reluctant to challenge the gender self-identification policy out of fear of losing potential opportunities.

“It is reflective of fencing being linked to entry into college, specifically, and highly competitive universities. Most schools that have a fencing team are in the Ivy League, and one of the best ways to get into the Ivy League is through fencing,” the source, who has over 10 years competitive experience in the sport, explained.

“The problem with this issue is that it’s so inflammatory that it’s hard to say anything without someone calling you a bigot, a Nazi, or a ‘violent threat to other people’ for not believing that men can become women or believing that men should be competing in the women’s division.”

The source says that many USFA tournament referees are vocally pro-trans, and some female athletes have concerns that if they speak out on the gender self-identification issue that they will be penalized during competitions. She also notes that the oft-repeated advice for women to simply “drop out” of competitions in protest would be ineffective and give the trans-identified males more opportunity to dominate the field.

“National team points are given out at Division 1 tournaments regardless of the amount of people who show up. So if [a woman] decides not to show up to a tournament in protest, then it is just allowing a smaller field for a male competitor to overtake women’s places on the national team.”

The source goes on to state that she is concerned about the issue of physical safety, specifically amongst Veterans, defined as competitors over the age of 40.

“I’ve noticed an influx of trans-identified males in the Veterans category, which is concerning considering the difference between men and women as we age. Particularly, women over the age of 50 are more likely to have bone density concerns. They could be osteoporotic, have arthritis in their hands, or be peri- or post-menopausal.”

The source notes that these women are at a particular biological disadvantage due to going through changes in their bodies unique to females.

“These women are going through all these changes, they are doing something for themselves sports-wise that is bringing them a sense of dignity and purpose. And they are being told that their safety, their wins, and their dignity don’t matter, but [a] man’s mental health does.”

The source described Damien Lehfeldt’s comments as a “huge slap in the face” to older women participating in fencing.

“You wouldn’t tell a man that wins and competitive glory don’t matter. But they have the audacity to tell women this. It really drives home the fact that they don’t care about women, believe them, and are okay with disrespecting them.”

Fairness in women’s sport has become a hotly-contested issue on the global stage in recent years, with reports of trans-identified male athletes in powerlifting, cycling, swimming, running, and more taking home medals in women’s categories.

In wake of continued controversy, World Athletics updated their guidelines in March to prohibit transgender athletes who have gone through male puberty from participating in female world ranking competitions.

In a statement about their decision, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “The decision that the council made is a primarily principled based decision about the over-arching need to protect the female category. This is what our sport is here to do. And I think the council has done that today.”

He continued by placing an emphasis on fairness: “We continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations. We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years.”

Other sport governing bodies have since followed suit, but many competitions remain defiant and have maintained policies that favor trans-identified male athletes.

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Genevieve Gluck

Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.

Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.