Penn’s Lia Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle in Atlanta late last week, becoming the first known transgender swimmer to capture an NCAA Division I championship.

But not according to Florida's governor.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, issued a proclamation declaring that the second-place finisher — University of Virginia swimmer and Florida resident Emma Weyant — was the “rightful winner.”

"By allowing men to compete in women's sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud," DeSantis wrote in a tweet announcing the proclamation. "In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota's Emma Weyant as the best women's swimmer in the 500y freestyle."

In the proclamation, DeSantis denounced Thomas and other transgender athletes for "robbing women and girls of achievements, awards, and scholarships."

The NCAA did not immediately respond Tuesday morning to a request for comment from The Washington Post. Weyant does not appear to have publicly commented on DeSantis declaring her the true winner.

Thomas finished with a time of 4:33.24 in the 500-yard freestyle, more than a second ahead of Weyant’s 4:34.99, although she fell about nine seconds short of breaking Katie Ledecky’s 2017 record. Thomas finished eighth in the 100-yard freestyle and tied for fifth in the 200-yard freestyle.

DeSantis doesn't have the power to declare or disqualify winners in college sports, so Tuesday's gubernatorial proclamation was largely symbolic. But it underscores how the debate about transgender athletes participating in competitive sports has emerged as one of the recent battles in the country's culture wars.

» READ MORE: Penn swimmer Lia Thomas didn’t dominate the NCAA championships. That hasn’t stopped the debate over trans athletes.

For months, Thomas has been amid the fiercest figures in that battle, even as she's tried not to engage and to focus on swimming. Since the start of the swim season in the fall, the University of Pennsylvania senior has set records and crushed competitors. As her successes piled up, so did the controversy. Sports legends said Thomas shouldn't be allowed to compete against women. So did some of her teammates. Others rallied to her side, including Penn and Ivy League officials. Through it all, she has largely stayed quiet.

This was Thomas's first and final season swimming for the women's team at Penn. For three seasons, she competed for the men's swim team, The Post reported in January. Toward the end of those three years, she began testosterone suppression treatment. At the time, the NCAA required transgender women to go through a year of such treatment before participating in women's sports. Thomas ended up coordinating with Penn and NCAA officials throughout more than two years of testosterone suppression to swim on the women's team.

Thomas has dominated in the pool this season, beating competitors handily and setting records.

» READ MORE: Watch: Trans athlete weighs in on Lia Thomas media storm and trans visibility in sports

Conservatives, including DeSantis, have used Thomas's dominance and the firestorm surrounding transgender athletics as a political talking point. In June, the Florida governor signed into law Senate Bill 1028, the Fairness in Women's Sports Act. The new law bars anyone assigned the male gender at birth from competing in competitive sports meant for girls or women. The ban, which took effect July 1, applies to athletics at public high schools, colleges and universities, including intramural and club sports.

"As a father of two daughters, I want my girls, and every girl in Florida, to compete on an even playing field for the opportunities available to young women in sports," DeSantis said in a statement when he signed the legislation into law. "Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states."

With his proclamation Tuesday, DeSantis doubled down on that sentiment and took the NCAA to task.

"It is my determination that men should not be competing against women such as Emma Weyant," DeSantis wrote in his proclamation. " … Florida rejects the NCAA's efforts to destroy women's athletics, disapproves of the NCAA elevating ideology over biology, and takes offense at the NCAA trying to make others complicit in a lie."

That sentiment was not absent at the NCAA championships in Atlanta. There were protests outside Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, with campus police occasionally separating those supportive of and opposed to transgender athletes competing in women's sports, The Post reported. Some of that seeped into the arena. As Thomas and her seven competitors got onto the blocks, a woman in the audience held up a flag: "Save Women's Sports: Woman = Adult Human Female."

» READ MORE: 5 takeaways from Lia Thomas’ interview with Sports Illustrated

After the race, an ESPN reporter asked Thomas about the months-long controversy that snowballed throughout the season.

"I try to ignore it as much as I can. I try to focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races and just try to block out everything else," Thomas said.

Then, she went to collect her championship trophy.