Lia Thomas Opens Up About Past and Future

It was a rare media appearance for the transgender swimmer
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2022 5:12 PM CDT
Lia Thomas Has Olympic Dreams
Protester hold signs as University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the 200 freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships Friday, March 18, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Thomas finished tied for fifth place.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(Newser) – Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has graduated from Penn and plans to go to law school. She also hopes to compete in the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials, according to Good Morning America. Thomas took gold in the 500-yard freestyle in March, becoming the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA division title in any sport. It was Thomas’s fourth season at Penn but her first on the women’s swim team. She said it was an amazing experience to be able to compete “as my authentic self” while simultaneously fulfilling a lifelong dream to “be at that meet and do as well as I could.”

Thomas talked to GMA about her transition, including the events in her early life that led to the decision and the controversy that has since gripped women’s sports. To critics who say she only seeks glory on the podium, she said, "Trans people don’t transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves. Transitioning to get an advantage is not something that ever factors into our decisions.” And to the 16 teammates and parents who wrote an anonymous letter calling her a threat to women’s sports, Thomas said she had fulfilled all NCAA requirements and "trans women are not a threat to women’s sports."

According to an in-depth New York Times story on the swirling debate about transgender athletes, hormone therapy cannot replace the effects of testosterone, "the 800-pound gorilla" at the heart of the issue. Per the Times, "little mystery attends" the fact that men are "bathed in testosterone" starting in the womb, and there’s no reversing the broader shoulders, bigger hands, and greater heart/lung capacity that typically develop during puberty. The battle has reached an "angry pitch" in the women’s sporting world, per the Times, not only over questions of fairness but also the hard-earned rights women gained through Title IX, the reasoning for which was based on biological differences between men and women. It is also a rising political issue, as 18 states have restricted transgender participation in sports. (Read more Lia Thomas stories.)

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