Connect with us

Sports

Transgender swimmer breaks silence

Lia Thomas hopes to ‘swim at Olympic trials’

Published

on

Screenshot Good Morning America/ABC News

After months of nasty headlines and boos hurled her way at the mere mention of her name, Lia Thomas can finally live her life away from the spotlight, and enjoy her first summer as just another college graduate.

So, what does the out transgender champion do? She’s granted her first media interviews since her historic NCAA victory, telling reporters she’s headed to law school and she also plans to take the laps necessary to win Olympic gold. 

“I intend to keep swimming,” Thomas told ABC News correspondent Juju Chang Tuesday on “Good Morning America.” “It’s been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time, and I would love to see that through.”

In addition to Chang, the native of Austin, Texas, also agreed to answer questions from ESPN sportswriter Katie Barnes, who is the first out LGBTQ journalist to be granted this opportunity. 

The Los Angeles Blade repeatedly requested an interview with Thomas, before, during and after she competed at the National Championships in Atlanta. Barnes was there, too, and as they reported, Thomas flat-out refused to appear at the traditional winner’s news conference. She gave only two interviews during her historic run: The first went to a SwimSwam podcaster in December, and the only other one was live on the pool deck with ESPN, immediately after Thomas won the 500-freestyle in March. 

Barnes, who is non-binary, asked the UPenn grad for her perspective on the ongoing national debate over trans girls and women competing with cisgender girls and women in school sports. 

“The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned,” Thomas said. “People will say, ‘Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage, so she could win.’ I transitioned to be happy, to be true to myself.”

Thomas, who swam on the Penn men’s swimming team for three seasons, then took a gap year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled college swimming, said she began her medical transition in May 2019 following her sophomore year. By the time she joined the women’s swim team as a fifth year senior in 2021, she had undergone 30months of hormone replacement therapy. 

Republican legislators who have copy-pasted bills banning trans student athletes across the country have invoked Thomas’ name, claiming laws were needed to protect the sanctity of women’s sports, even in states where no out trans students competed.

Thomas told ESPN the threat is entirely imaginary. 

“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole,” Thomas told Barnes. “Trans women are a very small minority of all athletes. The NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for 10-plus years. And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating.”

The rules are changing, however. USA Swimming updated its trans participation policy in February to require evaluation of eligibility for trans women by a three-person panel, and 36 months of testosterone suppression; More months than Thomas had undergone. However, the NCAA opted to not impose that policy for its 2022 swimming and diving championships, and Thomas merely had to comply with the previous policy: A demonstrated testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter.

Critics of the NCAA have proposed trans women should compete separately from cis women. Thomas told Barnes she objects to that so-called solution.

“If you say, like, you can compete, but you can’t score or you’re in an extra lane nine, that’s very othering towards trans people,” said Thomas. “And it is not offering them the same level of respect and opportunity to play and to compete.”

She told them it comes down to this: Trans women are women. 

“It’s no different than a cis woman taking a spot on a travel team or a scholarship. It’s a part of athletics, where people are competing against each other. It’s not taking away opportunities from cis women, really. Trans women are women, so it’s still a woman who is getting that scholarship or that opportunity,” she said. 

Besides looking to the Olympic trials, Thomas said she will attend grad school in the fall and plans to focus on civil rights and public interest law.

“Having seen such hateful attacks on trans rights through legislation, fighting for trans rights and trans equality is something that I’ve become much more passionate about and want to pursue,” said Thomas. 

Watch ESPN’s report on Lia Thomas by clicking here.

Swimmer Lia Thomas breaks silence about backlash, future plans – GMA

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Politics

Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on Trans swimmers on Twitter

“[…] what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted

Published

on

Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers.

“It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes.

The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes.

“We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said;

“Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen

Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school.

“It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

In April the Fox network hired Jenner as on-air contributor role with her first appearance on Hannity.

Continue Reading

Sports

World swimming body FINA votes to ban Trans athletes

Says policy necessary because of ‘biological performance gap’

Published

on

FINA's president, Husain Al-Musallam, announcing the new policy Sunday in Budapest (Screenshot/YouTube 10 News First)

The Swimming’s world governing body FINA meeting in the Hungarian capital city voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

Enactment of that requirement effectively eliminates trans women’s eligibility to compete in the women’s category.

Tanner Stages describe the physical changes people undergo during puberty.

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

“Without eligibility standards based on biological sex or sex-linked traits, we are very unlikely to see biological females in finals, on podiums, or in championship positions; and in sports and events involving collisions and projectiles, biological female athletes would be at greater risk of injury,” the statement from FINA’s new policy read.

Athlete Ally, which advocates for Trans athletes responded:

“FINA’s new eligibility criteria for transgender athletes and athletes with intersex variations is deeply discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 International Olympic Committee framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally.

“This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue,” said Joni Madison, Human Rights Campaign Interim President. “This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer. We urge the FINA to rethink its policy and ensure inclusion for all athletes — including transgender women – and allow them to participate in sports free from discrimination, abuse and harassment.

“To the young athletes who may be disheartened by this policy, know that we know and believe that every young person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that transgender kids, like their friends, deserve the same chances to learn sportsmanship, self-discipline, and teamwork, and to build a sense of belonging with their peers,” Madison added.

Swimming Body FINA Votes To Segregate Trans Athletes | 10 News First:

**********************

Continue Reading

Sports

Poll finds majority of Americans oppose trans athletes in female sports teams

Washington Post and University of Maryland conducted survey

Published

on

Pennsylvania State University swimmer Lia Thomas competed on the women’s swim team and became the first transgender person to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship. (Screen capture via YouTube))

As the nationwide debate over transgender athletes’ involvement in sports teams corresponding to their gender identity continues, the Washington Post on Tuesday released a new poll identifying where Americans stand on the issue.

The new poll, conducted by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, found that a majority of Americans oppose trans women and girls’ involvement in female sports. 

According to the poll, which surveyed more than 1,500 Americans, 55 percent were opposed to trans athletes participating in female high school sports. Similarly, the poll found that 58 percent were opposed to trans athletes competing on both college and professional female sports teams. 

The only sports category in which there was not majority opposition was on the question of trans athletes’ involvement in youth female sports teams. Forty-nine percent opposed their involvement at this level, while 33 percent supported it. Seventeen percent answered as having no opinion on the topic.

The poll’s findings contrast a growing overall acceptance among the population for those who identify as trans. 

Roughly 40 percent of those polled by the Post said that greater acceptance of trans people in society was good, compared to 25 percent who believed such to be bad. The findings remained relatively consistent with polling done earlier this year by the Pew Research Center that found similar attitudes that favored accepting trans individuals.

And as the share of young Americans identifying as trans has begun to rise, so too have the rates of Americans in recent years that have favored more social acceptance. However, the country’s perception on the issue of trans women and girls competing in female sports has remained stagnant. Some of the most prominent debate came earlier this year after Pennsylvania State University swimmer Lia Thomas competed on the women’s swim team and became the first trans person to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship.

“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole because trans women are a very small minority of all athletes and the NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for 10-plus years,” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN. “And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating.”

The results of the poll and renewed debates come as state legislatures across the country have pushed forward efforts in recent years to address what some lawmakers see as an unfair playing field presented by trans athletes’ presence on sports teams. Such efforts have risen in both prominence and frequency as the conversation has continued and remained persistent.

Just one week before the Post released their poll, the Louisiana State Legislature passed a bill that would prohibit trans athletes from competing on women’s and girls’ sports teams at youth, high school and college levels. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards declined to veto or sign the bill, citing overwhelming support for the bill in the legislature that would have overridden his potential veto. Without requisite opposition, Louisiana will become the 18th state to enact such legislation.

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, pushed back on both the legislature’s decision to pass the bill as well as Edwards’ decision not to block its passage.

“The radical politicians that engineered this bill are targeting kids who just want to play sports for the same reason all students do — to learn the values of teamwork, to face healthy competition, and to have fun,” Oakley said in a statement. “These children were failed by their leaders.”

Lawmakers in some states that have yet to pass restrictions on trans athletes’ involvement in sports have continued their attempts to do so.

On the same day of the Louisiana bill’s passage, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to advance similar legislation to mandate students in public schools and universities compete on sports teams consistent with their assigned sex at birth. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has since indicated his intent to prevent the bill’s passage into law.

“Pennsylvania’s Republican lawmakers are celebrating Pride Month by advancing legislation targeting trans kids,” Wolf wrote on Twitter. “As I’ve said, I will veto this bill if it makes it to my desk.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular