Transgender Athlete Competing In Fencing At Brandeis University

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If you looked at the Brandeis University women’s fencing roster last year, you would have seen the name Alexander Wicken on it.

Wicken is no longer a member of the team this year, however.

Wicken, who is openly transgender, is now competing for the men’s team. Wicken is biologically female but identifies as a transgender man. 

Wicken, a senior, was a member of the women’s team as a freshman, sophomore, and junior. Wicken came out as transgender in high school, according to The Justice, the student newspaper at Brandeis University.

Although Wicken identifies as male, the fencer was given a choice of which team to compete on at Brandeis.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s policy provides flexibility to transgender athletes. Under NCAA policy, a biological female may compete on either a men’s team or a women’s team, provided that the athlete is not taking transitioning hormones. If the athlete is taking hormones meant to assist physical transitioning to a masculine identity, then the athlete cannot compete on the women’s team.

Here is what the NCAA’s policy says on the matter (where “FTM” stands for “female-to-male” and “MTF” stands for “male-to-female”):


Trans student-athletes who are not taking hormone treatment related to gender transition may participate in sex-separated sports activities in accordance with their sex assigned at birth.

• A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who is not taking testosterone related to gender transition may participate on a men’s or women’s team.

• A trans female (MTF) student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.


The senior, who competes as an epee, went 0-1 in the men’s season opener; Wicken lost the match 15-7. Brandeis opened its season with the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Fall Tournament on Saturday, November 5, at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. 

A junior last year, Wicken competed as a foil on the women’s side. Wicken went 15-45 in 60 matches during the 2021-2022 season. 

Wicken is an advocate for transgender rights and wants to create a greater acceptance of transgender people.

“I think a meaningful way to deal with gender discrimination is [through] education,” Wicken told The Justice. “Specifically gender discrimination regarding trans people …  you can always learn more … that, ‘Oh, these are just human beings living their lives.’ ”

Brandeis is a private university in Waltham, Massachusetts that has about 3,600 students. It is an NCAA Division 3 school.

A spokesman for Brandeis told NewBostonPost in an email message:  “Brandeis takes its NCAA compliance seriously, and department staff and student-athletes consistently maintain compliance with NCAA bylaws, including those related to medical exceptions.”

Brandeis is not the only Massachusetts school that has had openly transgender college athletes competing. 

Harvard College (Cambridge; NCAA Division 1) and Endicott College (Beverly; NCAA Division 3) each had one transgender athlete before Brandeis. In both instances, they were biological females who identify as transgender men.

Schuyler Bailar identifies as a transgender man. Bailar was a member of the Harvard men’s swimming and diving team from 2015 to 2019. Bailar’s career was the first known instance of a biological female identifying as a man competing in an NCAA Division 1 sport.

Initially, Bailar was offered a spot on the Harvard women’s swimming and diving team; but Bailar stopped identifying as a woman during a gap year before going to Harvard. As a result, men’s coach Kevin Tyrrell offered Bailar a spot on his team.

Bailar developed into an above-average NCAA Division 1 men’s swimmer; Bailar’s best 110-yard breaststroke as a senior (2018-2019) ranked in the top 15 percent of all NCAA men’s competitors that season.

At Endicott, Ryan Socolow was a member of the women’s lacrosse team for four years. Socolow started identifying as a man in June 2013 — after lacrosse season ended. However, as a senior in 2014, Socolow identified as a man but was not yet taking male hormones. Socolow shined in net for Endicott, helping the team to a 14-4 season. Socolow was also sharp in net the season before, helping the team to a 13-8 record

Even so, there are no confirmed instances of biological males who identify as women competing on women’s college sports teams in Massachusetts. 

Wicken could not be reached for comment on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.


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