Fury over 'unfair' competition as trans swimmer is now smashing women's records

Fury over 'unfair' competition as trans swimmer is now smashing women's records
Fury over 'unfair' competition as trans swimmer is now smashing women's records

A trans swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, who previously spent three years competing in men's competitions is now breaking records in women's events.

Lia Thomas, formerly named Will, has competed in a number of events recently, as she attended a tri-meet with Cornell and Princeton universities on November 20.

She 'blasted' University of Pennsylvania records in the 200m freestyle and 500m freestyle at the event - posting times that beat almost any other female swimmers across America.

With a time of 1:43:47 in the 200 freestyle, Thomas would have been in line to secure a silver medal at the NCAA Women's Championships, while her 4:35:06 in the 500 freestyle would have been good enough to win bronze. 

This is the latest controversy in the ongoing argument over whether trans people should be allowed to compete in sports alongside athletes of the opposite gender than they were assigned at birth.    

Lia's success at the event held last weekend has reignited the debate, as she was a key component in her team's success in the 400 free relay, and she swept the board when it came to 100, 200 and 500 free individual events. 

Previously, Thomas (pictured before transitioning) competed for Pennsylvania's men's swimming team, competing for three years before having a year off as a result of the Covid pandemic - with her last event for the men's team coming on November 16, 2019

Previously, Thomas (pictured before transitioning) competed for Pennsylvania's men's swimming team, competing for three years before having a year off as a result of the Covid pandemic - with her last event for the men's team coming on November 16, 2019

Previously, Thomas competed for Pennsylvania's men's swimming team, competing for three years before having a year off as a result of the Covid pandemic - with her last event for the men's team coming on November 16, 2019, according to University of Pennsylvania records.

Speaking previously about her ability to continue competing as a trans athlete, Lia said: 'Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.' 

According to the NCAA Policy on Transgender Student-Athlete Participation, a trans female must have undergone at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment before being eligible to compete on a women's team.

The rules state: 'A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men's team but may not compete on a women's team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.'

The guidelines also make clear that: 'A trans female (MTF) transgender student-athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women's team.'

In addition, if a sports team has been classified as a mixed team as a result of the inclusion of a trans woman who has undergone none or less than one year of testosterone suppression treatment, this classification remains in place for the remainder of the academic year 'without exception'. 

A number of people voiced their anger at Thomas being allowed to compete in women's swimming competitions

A number of people voiced their anger at Thomas being allowed to compete in women's swimming competitions

Despite these rules, some have voiced their anger over Thomas' recent success in the women's events. 

Sport performance coach Linda Blade responded to Thomas' most recent event by saying: 'Well of course women's records are being smashed! Lia competed as male for first three years in #NCAA. This is not right! 

'We need to return to #SexBasedSports! #SexNotGender to preserve fairness for female athletes.'

One person said: 'How many people were involved in this swim meet and not one of them stood up and said this is wrong?' 

Though the bitter response to Thomas' recent success wasn't universal, with some congratulating the student athlete, and one person even pointing out how her results proved she wasn't 'dominating' the sport

Though the bitter response to Thomas' recent success wasn't universal, with some congratulating the student athlete, and one person even pointing out how her results proved she wasn't 'dominating' the sport

While a third said: 'How can anybody look at that and say that it is fair for Lia Thomas to swim against women?'

However, criticism was not universal, with sport inclusivity educator Kirsti Miller sharing a number of women's swimming records and comparing them to Thomas' best results.

She claimed that the fact Thomas was behind in all the records meant that she was in no way 'dominating' women's swimming. 

While former swim coach Emma McGee voiced her support for Lia, saying: 'Since no one else is saying it- congrats to her!'

Earlier this year, Olympic officials announced that rules for allowing transgender athletes to participate in women's competitions will be changed.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said earlier this year they will be setting out a new policy for participation of transgender women in Olympic sports.

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