Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania, shone during her team’s last home game amid controversy over whether she should be allowed to compete on the women’s team after the transition.
Thomas placed first in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races during a meet at Shear Pool on Saturday afternoon, facing off against the swim teams of Dartmouth and Yale Universities.
However, she finished fifth during the 100-yard freestyle run. Yale’s Issaac Hennig, a transgender athlete transitioning from female to male, won that event.
The meeting was held despite reports that some members of the team had planned to oppose it over fairness concerns. It went without major issues. The swimmers started the afternoon with enthusiastic team chants while families clapped for their teams in the stands.
Yet there were signs of tension. When the school celebrated seniors, some did not clap and clapped for Thomas – although most did.
Outside the meeting, some women protested Thomas’s participation, saying newsweek She feels that letting her swim in the women’s team is unfair to other athletes.
One, Joy Grey, said that even after the transition, Thomas still had an advantage over other competitors by being physically large. He called Thomas’s involvement “discrimination against women”.
“Bigger heart, bigger lungs, bigger bones, bigger surface area for muscles. More muscle means more power. These don’t go away with infection,” she said.
Another, Jennifer Thomas (no relation), said: “We want people to see other women and men standing up for what is right, which is fairness in sport.”
Gray said that while she feels it is unfair for transgender women to participate in women’s sports, she supports transgender athletes competing in their own leagues and dismisses allegations that women’s sports teams compete on People who worry about trans women who commit suicide are “anti-trans”.
Others in the program supported Thomas. One parent, Sue Feldman told newsweek She felt bad that Thomas got the backlash, noting that the swimmer followed the rules set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” she said. “I sympathize with the girls who are being beaten up, but she hasn’t done anything wrong. She’s following the rules.”
She continued: “Like any swimmer, she’s good at some things and not so good at other things. She’s not a great sprinter, but she’s good at distance.”
Thomas found herself at the center of a national conversation about how to get transgender women into sports after she started swimming for the school’s women’s team. She swam for the men’s team before transitioning.
NCAA allows transgender women to compete on women’s teams until they Have been treated with a testosterone suppression drug for at least one year before being allowed to compete on women’s teams.
Thomas’s victory during the last swimming competition stunned the swimming community, forcing him to consider the issue of inclusion. During the Zippy Invitational Meet in December, Thomas won nearly every freestyle race, setting a program, meet and pool record time during 1,650 freestyle races, According to Penn Athletics,
His victory. Inspired John Lohan, editor-in-chief of swimming world magazine, To write in December Opinion Peace That “athletes transitioning from male to female have an inherent advantage of testosterone production and years of muscle building.”
“In Thomas’s case, she had almost 20 years of this testosterone-building benefit, something cisgender women couldn’t achieve. Although she did participate in a testosterone-suppression process, a look at her performance clearly shows that she can’t get enough of it.” The genetics of the sex of her birth,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, both the school and the Ivy League defended her inclusion in the team this week, arguing that she has met all the protocols of a transgender student-athlete to compete on a women’s team.
“We fully support all student-athletes and coaches in our swimming and diving program and look forward to the team’s continued success this season,” UPenn Athletics wrote in a statement.
The Ivy League wrote in a statement that it “reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes, while denouncing transphobia and discrimination in any form. The league supports women’s swimming and diving activities.” We welcome their participation in the sport and look forward to celebrating the success of all our student-athletes throughout the season.”