Lia Thomas: The transsexual swimmer Lia Thomas and her dominance in the pool open a great controversy in the US | sports

Lia Thomas, in the pool at the University of Pennsylvania.  / PENN ATHLETICS
Lia Thomas, in the pool at the University of Pennsylvania. / PENN ATHLETICS

Lia Thomas is a transsexual swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania. He is 22 years old and was born in Austin, Texas. His name was Will Thomas, he competed as a man until 2019 and for three years he was part of the men’s team at that university. He was absent during the 2020-2021 season to comply with regulations requiring one year of treatment for testosterone suppression. In November she returned to compete, as Lia, in the women’s team. He set several University of Pennsylvania and Ivy League records, and the best time of the season for the United States in the 200-yard freestyle with 1: 41.93.

On December 5, a group of parents of swimmers from the Pennsylvania team sent a letter to the NCAA, the association that organizes most of the university sports programs in the United States, in which they describe the situation as a threat to the integrity of the team. female sport. “The precedent that is being set, in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete, is a direct threat to female athletes in all sports,” they stated.

Two weeks ago, Cynthia Millen resigned from her position as judge for the United States Federation, USA Swimming, in protest of allowing Lia Thomas to compete with the Pennsylvania women’s team. “I do not mean to criticize Lia, whatever happens, she is a daughter of God, a precious person, but she is a male body swimming against the female,” Millen wrote in the resignation letter. And that male body can never change. That male body will always be a male body ”.

Lia Thomas, before her sex change, when her name was Will.  / FACEBOOK
Lia Thomas, before her sex change, when her name was Will. / FACEBOOK

The specialized medium Swimming World has published an editorial stating that, if the NCAA does not intervene, the effects of the case are comparable to those of doping and the medals claimed by several American swimmers, who consider that they did not compete on equal terms with their rivals in the Democratic Republic from Germany, when systematic doping was practiced in that country in the 1970s. “Despite the hormonal suppressants she has taken according to NCAA guidelines, Lia Thomas’s advantage in male puberty has not been reduced by an adequate amount,” the editorial states. “The fact is, for almost 20 years, he built muscle and benefited from the naturally produced testosterone in his body. That force doesn’t disappear overnight, not even with a year of suppressors. Consequently, Thomas dives into the water with an inherent advantage over the others. “

The case is a threat to the integrity of women’s sport, critics say

Research on transsexual female athletes carried out in 2020 by Emma Hilton, from Manchester University, and Tommy Lundberg, from Stockholm University, concludes: “The biological advantage, most notably in terms of muscle mass and strength, conferred by male puberty and therefore enjoyed by the majority of transgender women is minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed according to current sporting guidelines for transgender athletes ”.

Lia Thomas claims that she followed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for two and a half years. The time difference between the male and female swimming records is approximately 11%. Hormone replacement therapy represents an approximate 2% to 3% change in swimmer times.

Lia explains that she realized she was transsexual in 2018. “There was a lot of uncertainty. I didn’t know what to do. I decided to swim that season as a man, without coming out of the closet, and that caused me a lot of anguish. I struggled, my mental health was not very good. I was very restless and felt trapped in my body. It was when I decided that the time had come to begin my transition. ” In May 2019, he began his hormone replacement therapy, while continuing to compete in the men’s category. “The early stages of the transition,” she explains, “was a very uncomfortable experience because it was basically a woman competing with men.” In the summer of 2020 the NCAA approved his medical record. Soon after, she began competing with the Pennsylvania women’s team.

Swimmer Nancy Lynn Hogshead won three gold and one silver medals at the 1984 Olympics. Now 59, she is a lawyer and director of Champion Women, an organization that works for equality and responsibility in sport. “Transgender women should be allowed to compete in women’s sport, provided they can show that they have mitigated the athletic advantages that male puberty brings,” she wrote in the Daily Mail. “As a civil rights attorney, I can assure you that it is fair for transgender woman Lia Thomas to compete for the University of Pennsylvania in the NCAA. Their dominance of the female category is doing nothing to generate greater empathy in society for inclusive practices for the transgender community ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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