Lia Thomas, a talented swimmer, achieved national success after joining the women’s team at Yale University. Before this, she competed on the men’s team for three years but ranked much lower.
Banning Biological Males From Competing in Women’s Events
Now Lia Thomas’ swimming career might face an uncertain future due to a new policy by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) that bans most biological males from competing in women’s events on the world stage.
According to this policy, transgender swimmers must complete their transition by age 12 to be eligible to compete.
An overwhelming 71.5 percent of the governing board of swimming voted for the new policy. It also clarified that it doesn’t support early childhood transitioning.
A spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, James Pearce, explained that the policy is based on scientific evidence that transitioning after puberty can provide an advantage, which is deemed unfair.
… Because of Testosterone Advantages
Lia Thomas won the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Championship in the 500-yard freestyle. However, experts like Mayo Clinic doctor Michael Joyner and physiologist Ross Tucker believe she has a biological advantage over her female competitors.
The advantage is mainly due to testosterone levels. Despite undergoing testosterone suppression for a year as NCAA policy requires, the impact of nearly 20 years of male testosterone levels may not be fully reversible.
In response to the controversy, Lia Thomas expressed that she identifies as a woman and sees herself as just a swimmer.
However, popular public figures in sports and medicine have voiced concerns over the controversy.
“Biological Boys Should Not Be Playing in Women’s Sports”
These figures include cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Oz, Olympian Michael Phelps, and former Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, who have all expressed concerns about transgender athletes competing against athletes of a different biological gender.
Caitlyn Jenner argued that the University of Virginia swimmer Emma Weyant, who came in second place behind Thomas, should be considered the rightful champion of the event.
In a Conversation with TMZ, she stated, “biological boys should not be playing in women’s sports. We need to protect women’s sports, and [Lia Thomas] is also not good for women’s sports. It’s unfortunate that this is happening. I don’t know why she’s doing it.”
The former male Olympian makes it clear that she believes biological men should not compete in women’s sports to protect the integrity of women’s sports.
Governing Bodies Are Working To Find a Fair and Inclusive Approach
Despite the differing opinions on the matter, the issue remains complex, and there are no easy solutions.
Lia Thomas’ success has brought attention to the debate surrounding transgender athletes in sports, and the governing bodies are working to find a fair and inclusive approach while addressing concerns about competitiveness and fairness.
Lia Thomas’ journey as a swimmer has brought attention to the issue of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.
The Debate Around Transgender Athletes in Sports Remains Ongoing
The new policy by FINA has sparked controversy and discussions about the biological advantages some athletes may have.
While Lia Thomas identifies as a woman, the debate around transgender athletes in sports remains ongoing, and it’s crucial to find a balanced approach that respects all athletes’ rights and ensures fair competition.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / DCStockPhotography. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.