Trans athlete takes on UPenn Swimming by Storm — MARIST CIRCLE

A big controversy in the sports world has revolved around University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a transgender woman who was assigned male at birth. Thomas previously competed as a male on the swim team for three seasons until she recently came out as transgender in the last swimming season.

Thomas has been a dominant force for the UPenn swim team. She broke several women recordings, the next fastest swimmer finishing 38 seconds behind her in the 1650 meter freestyle. Thomas also set the nation’s best times in the 200 meters (1:41.93) and 500 meters (4:34.06) earlier this season. Many people wonder: is this right? Is a transgender person who recently swam for the men’s team eligible to join the women’s team? Is it a surprise that she dominates? Thomas has been taking testosterone blockers in addition to estrogen for over a year, making her eligible to swim in women’s collegiate events, per NCAA regulations.

Many current athletes and college officials have spoken out about the complicated situation of Thomas’ dominance in women’s sports. Cynthia Millen, who has officiated swim meets in the United States for more than three decades, appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to explain that the argument lies in Thomas’ sex, not his gender.

“The fact is, swimming is a sport in which bodies compete with bodies. Identities do not compete with identities. Men are different from women; male swimmers are different from female swimmers, and they will always be faster than females,” Millen mentioned.

Millen added to her dissenting argument against the fact that Thomas took testosterone blockers, misgendering her in the process.

“While Lia Thomas is a child of God, he is a biological male who competes with women,” Millen said. “No matter how much testosterone suppressing drugs he takes, he will always be a biological male and have the advantage.”

Other swimmers from their respective NCAA teams have also spoken out against Lia Thomas and her abilities. A swimmer with the Niagara University swim team, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told the Independent that “swimming against Lia Thomas was intimidating. It was tough going into a race knowing there was no way I was going to finish first.

I think it’s a bit unfair for those cisgender swimmers who have worked their whole lives to get a place or a scholarship in their respective schools to go up against someone who has competed in men’s races before.

Lia Thomas is a woman now, yes, but she’s only been on estrogen and testosterone blockers for a year. It may take 2-5 years at least for all the physical changes to take place. The situation would be different if Thomas had become transgender while in high school or as a young boy, as the change happened early enough to alter his body to resemble a cisgender woman. It’s very trying for these cisgender swimmers to watch Thomas jump into the pool and smash all the records, leaving the other women in the pool with virtually no chance.

A supporter of allowing Thomas to swim argues that this new precedent could motivate other female cisgender athletes to work harder and become even better swimmers to challenge Thomas. Additionally, today’s society is more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, which Thomas can help further by serving as a representative in sports for all young people who are afraid of coming out as transgender. Thomas brings awareness to transgender athletes and proves that they can make a name for themselves in their respective sports.

Thomas is aware of the backlash she faces for being an elite transgender swimmer in the sport. She tries not to let it bother her, indicating that it’s “not healthy for me to read it and engage with it at all, and so I’m not doing it, and that’s all I’ll say about it”.

Thomas also said Sports Illustratedd, “the very simple answer is that I am not a man. I am a woman, therefore I belong to the women’s team. Trans people deserve the same respect as all other athletes.” It’s clear that Thomas has negatively affected others with his ability to swim, but others can see this because the world still has steps to take to accept transgender athletes.