UPenn Swimmer Lia Thomas Says Trans Women Don’t ‘Threaten’ Women’s Sports

Record smashing NCAA transgender swimmer Lia Thomas doesn’t believe that biological men who have transitioned “threaten” women’s sports with their participation.

Thomas, who became the first transgender athlete to win a NCAA Division I national championship when she smashed her biological female competitors in March, defended her decision to compete in the women’s category. 

“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole,” she told ESPN. “Trans women are a very small minority of all athletes. The NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for 10-plus years. And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating.”

The former college athlete, who spent three years competing on the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s team, began hormone treatments in 2019 and joined the women’s team during her senior season in 2021.   

Despite making headlines for dominating female competitors by several seconds in early meets, Thomas denied that her participation in the sport is harmful. 

“It’s no different than a cis woman taking a spot on a travel team or a scholarship. It’s a part of athletics, where people are competing against each other. It’s not taking away opportunities from cis women, really,” she said. “Trans women are women, so it’s still a woman who is getting that scholarship or that opportunity.”

She also explained that switching genders had nothing to do with improving her athletic standings. “The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned,” Thomas said. “People will say, ‘Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage, so she could win.’ I transitioned to be happy, to be true to myself.”

The recent graduate will be attending law school in the fall in response to a crop of bills that aim to restrict biological males from participating in girls’ and women’s sports, after her winning streak polarized the nation.  

“Having seen such hateful attacks on trans rights through legislation, fighting for trans rights and trans equality is something that I’ve become much more passionate about and want to pursue,” Thomas remarked.

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