Trans Swimmer Lia Thomas Announces Olympic Intentions, Claims to Have No Advantage Against Women


Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who has caused significant controversy by competing on the women’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania, has announced that he has an eye on the Olympics.

“I intend to keep swimming. It’s been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time, and I would love to see that through,” Thomas said in an interview aired on “Good Morning America.”

“It was a goal of mine to be at that meet and do as well as I could,” Thomas said. “So to be able to fulfill that personal goal and be at that meet as well as the sort of fulfillment of competing as my authentic self was just such an amazing experience, to have these things that I’ve been working towards for so long all come together.”

Thomas, who competed for three seasons on the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swim team, has been setting records since he switched to the women’s swim team.

In February, Thomas won three individual events and broke six records, Philly Voice reported.

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There has been frustration over Thomas’ participation in women’s swimming. Many claim he has an unfair advantage as a transgender athlete.

Some women on the Princeton University swim team spoke to the New York Times to express their frustration.

“The swimmers … detailed the biological advantages possessed by transgender female athletes. To ignore these, they said, ‘was to undermine a half-century fight for female equality in sport,'” the New York Times reported.

Other athletes have also spoken up over Thomas’ participation, and the issues of transgender individuals in sports generally, saying that biology cannot be ignored in competition.

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Sebastian Coe, the Olympic champion runner and head of World Athletics, which governs international track, said that biological differences are inescapable and have to be recognized.

“Gender cannot trump biology,” Coe said, according to The Times.

Even Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, the male Olympic athlete who became a transgender woman, said that transgender women should not be competing in female sports.

“I respect her [Lia Thomas’] decision to live her life authentically — 100 percent,” Jenner said, the Washington Post reported.

However, Jenner also said, “We need to protect women’s sports.”

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Doctors from the Mayo Clinic have also confirmed that Thomas has an unfair advantage, even though he has been taking testosterone suppressants.

“There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it. Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla,” Dr. Michael Joyner told the New York Times. Joyner studies the physiology of male and female athletes.

Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist, agreed.

“Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence. The reduction in testosterone did not remove her biological advantage,” Tucker said.

Thomas has publicly spoken about his transition to identifying as a female while still competing as a swimmer. He shared that the fear of not being able to compete in swimming was actually one thing that kept him from transitioning initially.

“Trans people don’t transition for athletics,” Thomas said in the interview on “Good Morning America.” “We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves. Transitioning to get an advantage is not something that ever factors into our decisions.”

“Trans women are not a threat to women’s sports,” Thomas added.

Thomas also noted that exceptionally tall or strong women are not barred from competing based on their physicality.

“I’m not a medical expert, but there’s a lot of variation among cis female athletes,” Thomas said. “There are cis women who are very tall and very muscular and have more testosterone than another cis woman, and should that then also disqualify them?”

However, Dr. Joyner said that even with the transition that Thomas is undergoing, it won’t change all aspects of his male body.

“There is going to be some loss to skeletal muscle mass, there is going to be some increase in body fat — those would be the two most obvious things,” Joyner said. “But things like hand size, lung size, feet size — that’s not going to change much. And of course, because as you know, swimming, it’s such an intense sport and people train so hard, that she is going to continue to have a significant exercise stimulus to those skeletal muscles.”

With Thomas’ goal of aiming for this Olympics now, there is continued controversy and conversations about how to handle transgender athletes in high-level competition.

The International Olympic Committee issued new policies that are transgender-inclusive and no longer based on testosterone levels, Sports Illustrated reported.

Instead, the IOC places the responsibility of establishing guidelines for transgender inclusion on each individual sport.

“It also concludes that sporting bodies should not assume that transgender women have an inherent advantage over cisgender women, nor should transgender women have to reduce their testosterone levels to compete,” Sports Illustrated noted.

This would allow Thomas to compete at the Olympic trials.

But that does not lessen the overall controversy as the issue continues to be debated by athletes and doctors.

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