Are Lia Thomas' UPenn swim teammates right to request not challenging new NCAA trans policies?
- Former Olympic swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Maker and 16 teammates of transgender Lia Thomas sent a letter to the University of Pennsylvania and the Ivy League athletic conference urging the NCAA to not challenge the new USA Swimming rules “so that we are able to finish our swimming seasons with distinction and pride” asserting “Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category.”
- On February 1, 2022, USA Swimming announced a new policy for transgender female athletes requiring the testosterone in their blood to be below five nanomoles per liter for 36 months before applying to compete in elite sports.
- On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order allowing trans student athletes to participate in sports corresponding to their gender identity.
- Ten states have legislation against transgender students joining female sports teams due to their gender identity and not their biological sex.
- Approximately 0.58% of adults in the United States are transgender.
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas used to be known as Will Thomas and competed on the school's men's swim team for two seasons. Now, the six-foot, one-inch biological male competes on UPenn's women's swim team.
The USA Swimming recently issued updated athlete inclusion, competitive equity, and eligibility policy, which requires evidence of lower testosterone levels for 36 months. This could most likely impact Thomas's eligibility in the upcoming NCAA Division I national championship meet. Sixteen of Thomas's female teammates sent a letter to the school and the Ivy League urging them not to challenge the new policy. As the letter noted correctly noted, Thomas was ranked #462 when competing as a male, yet ranked #1 as a female.
Lia Thomas is a biological male and clearly has an unfair physical advantage when competing against women. Saying a lie (such as using female pronouns for a biological male) over and over again does not make the lie true. Men aren't women, and women aren't men. They can dress as such, grow out their hair, take hormone therapy, and even undergo genital mutilating surgeries, but each remains biologically as they were born. To deny that is to deny science.
The Penn female swimmers and all of the biological females they compete against have worked and trained much of their lives to become the elite female athletes they are. This is not about discriminating against Thomas. Rather, it is about protecting women athletes. To allow biological males to compete against them in women's sports is a travesty and could end all of the gains women have made in sports over the last 40 years.
The participation of transgender athletes in sports has become a controversial issue. Lia Thomas's involvement in women's swimming has caused an outcry in the US world of swim sports, and Thomas' UPenn teammates want Thomas off the team. The NCAA just revised its policy on transgender athletes in college sports, which subjects transgender athletes like Thomas to hormonal testing before participating. That is wrong for several reasons.
First, it is important to remember that Lia Thomas is a person who deserves basic human decency and the right to compete no matter how people disagree on her ability to participate. Thomas's male physicality has created this controversy, as she was once a swimmer for two seasons on the male swim team at UPenn. By all accounts, she has trained hard to be a swimmer but now finds herself a target of media frenzy. Thomas did take hormone suppression therapy for two years as directed by the medical professionals. Because of this, UPenn officials agreed to let her participate after she met all the hormonal criteria.
Further, Thomas met all the previous NCAA physical and mental guidelines before she was allowed to participate—she did not take a shortcut. Now, the NCAA has revised its rules for transgender participation in sports, meaning Thomas will need to undergo periodic testing for testosterone before swimming. The problem has nothing to do with Thomas—it is the initial guidelines were not clear, creating chaos and friction among her colleagues. Some still speculate as to how much biological skill and physicality are interrelated to sports performance, but preventing transgender people from competing may result in adverse mental health issues including suicide. This definitely sends the wrong message to others waiting to transition.