A transgender female fencer picked up an eighth world championship on Sunday at the 2023 FIE Veteran Fencing World Championships.
Liz Kocab won in the Vet Women’s Epee over 14-time champion Marja-Liisa Someroja of Finland in Florida. It is the second time Kocab has won in the 70+ age category.
“I wanted to support USA Fencing,” Kocab said after the bout, via USA Fencing. “I really did. Otherwise, I was actually thinking of stepping away. But the fact that it was in America, I thought that was important to support the USA. This is my way of saying thanks to USA Fencing.”
Kocab and USA Fencing came under fire because the fencer was allowed to compete in the women’s category. However, USA Fencing implemented its own transgender and nonbinary athlete policy in November 2022.
The organization allows competitors 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.”
USA Fencing said in a news release that it was an “important first step toward expanding access to the sport of fencing and creating inclusive and safe spaces that promote equality and fairness for all.”
“It is critical that we protect the rights of nonbinary and transgender athletes in fencing,” USA Fencing CEO Phil Andrews said at the time. “Even as we plan to conduct more scientific research into the physiological effects of gender transition as they pertain specifically to the sport of fencing, we remain unanimously and steadfastly supportive of transgender athletes having their place in fencing.
“To be clear, even as this issue evolves, our support of transgender athletes will not waver.”
Transgender female veteran, junior and senior athletes have specific requirements for national ranking competitions.
“Athletes being treated with testosterone suppression medication, for the purposes of USA Fencing-sanctioned competitions may continue to compete in men’s events, but may only compete in women’s events after completing one calendar year (12 months) of testosterone suppression treatment. Proof of compliant hormone therapy must be provided prior to competition,” the organization says.
It is unclear when Kocab transitioned. Kocab’s success in her 60s was highlighted in a blog post from Transas City. The post noted that Kocab’s height at 6 feet may give her an advantage.
Additionally, Kocab was known as Greg when competing for Detroit Mercy. Kocab was a member of the 1972 NCAA National Championship team and was an All-American in 1973.
Kocab was inducted into the Detroit Mercy Titans Hall of Fame in 1987.