Guest Editorial: In Defense Of Lia Thomas and Her Right to Compete

lia-thomas, transgender, penn swimming, ncaa

Guest Editorial: In Defense Of Lia Thomas and Her Right to Compete

Swimming World is publishing the following guest editorial, written by Lucas Draper, a junior-year swimmer at Oberlin College.

Follow Lucas Draper on Twitter at: @lucas__draper

Lia Thomas is an athlete at the top of her game. She works hard for everything that she has accomplished. And yet, now she finds herself stuck in the spotlight, the target of a media frenzy simply about whether she should be allowed to compete as who she is.

Before I even begin to delve into the complex issue of transgender athlete participation in sports, I need to make it clear that Lia Thomas is a person first. No matter if you agree or disagree with whether she should be allowed to compete as a woman, she deserves some basic human decency. She is a woman, she uses she/her pronouns, and any reference to her otherwise is offensive.

I, myself, am a transgender male and have been on hormone replacement therapy for two months, competing in the male gender. I very much acknowledge that in terms of public scrutiny, I made the ‘easier’ transition from female to male. I transitioned into what society deems the ‘stronger’ gender. Society will tell you that I put myself at a disadvantage by competing as who I am, but I do not see it that way. I finally feel like me after so many years.

Lia Thomas experiences far more scrutiny over her physical form than I will ever have to deal with, and for that I say, Lia, I am so very sorry the world is being so mean to you. I hope people can come to see this isn’t about you and your identity as transgender. It’s about the larger policy, and people who are targetting you specifically need to understand that it is not your fault. You are being yourself, and since I don’t think enough people are telling you this right now, I am proud of you. I look up to you for being able to be strong in the face of what the world is throwing at you right now.

Lia has faced enough media attention and does not deserve to be at the center of this issue. She has every right to compete as an athlete in the female gender. She is following the rules set out by the NCAA, and has jumped through the various hoops of medical and psychological testing they require, and for that, the attention should not be on her.

Instead, I will present you with the facts of the decision by the NCAA, as well as newer research that should potentially be considered by the NCAA if it decides to revise these rules. I am also only going to focus on transgender females (sorry ladies) since they are the ones under the metaphorical microscope right now.

The NCAA is a national body that does not make decisions lightly. Given the amount of paperwork and approvals I had to obtain, I can attest to this. In the NCAA publication entitled, “Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes” (ITSA), the organization lists 10 “guiding principles” on which their decisions are made in regards to transgender participation.

Among this list, it states that “transgender athletes should have equal opportunity to participate in sports” and “the integrity of women’s sports should be preserved.” They also clearly state that “policies governing sports should be based on sound medical knowledge and scientific validity.”

I am not going to pretend that I can change the opinions of those that believe transgender females should not be allowed to compete in the female gender, but I do want to present to you the “sound medical knowledge” on which this decision was based. If one ventures down the ITSA document far enough, Appendix B presents a variety of sources on which this decision was based. I do not expect anyone to read those sources, so I shall provide you with the important notes from some of the most relevant pieces. You can go read the rest for yourself if you are so inclined.

The ITSA document was written in 2011, based on sources ranging from 2004 to 2009. The fact of the matter is, at the time when the NCAA needed to make a decision, there was not enough data to be able to conclusively determine if hormone therapy would severely improve an athlete’s performance. So, based on the information they had available to them, the NCAA made a decision.

Despite the document citing many different sources for its decision, when you take a deeper look, each paper references data from the same study.

This study from 2004, conducted by VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, stated that the changes that “took place during the first year of the administration of cross-sex hormones (were no different than) when measured two years later.” It suggested that requiring transgender female athletes to wait two years to compete in their correct gender was unnecessary since no noticeable impact on performance had occurred during the second year.

One paper prepared by Dr. Michaela Devries, referenced by the ITSA document, interprets the results of this study to suggest there is evidence that one year of hormone suppressants is enough to level the playing field. The paper analyzes multiple points of performance, such as hemoglobin levels (related to oxygen in the blood), which are all reduced to the same levels as those assigned female at birth.

The main point of contention with transgender female athletes is their muscle mass. Non-supporters argue the muscle these athletes gained while identifying as male continues to impact their performance. However, this study suggests that is not the entire story. Dr. Devries states that “estrogen… decreased muscle cross-sectional area, however (this) was still greater” than those assigned female at birth.

Dr. Devries goes on to state that, “although the average… was greater in transitioned women, there was a dramatic range in both cross-sectional groups.” Which presents the main reason transgender athletes should be allowed to participate in their chosen gender. There is a spectrum of physicalities for both those assigned male and female. At one end “physically born women have smaller muscle cross-sectional area, (and at the other end) muscle cross-sectional area was equal between transitioned women and physically born women.” This research suggests that we cannot simply look at a person’s gender and say ‘you will out perform her simply because she is female and you were born male.’ It’s not fair.

In saying that, there is more recent research coming from the Children’s Mercy Division of Adolescent Medicine, Kansas City, and the San Antonio Milliary Medical Center, Fort Sam, Texas in 2020 that suggests perhaps two years is not enough time for transgender women to wait.

Researchers analyzed the number of pushups, situps, and the time taken to run a mile for transgender athletes, both transmale and transfemale, before and after two years of hormone replacement therapy to determine the effect of hormones on performance. They found that after two years, there was no difference in the number of pushups and situps performed in a minute by both cisgender and transgender women. However, the transgender women were on average still 12% faster in their mile times.

We simply do not know the difference between skill and physicality. I have seen many races in my time where those assigned female at birth outswim those assigned male at birth, even when they have both received the same training. It happens all the time. So, why should transgender female athletes, who have gone through the process of hormone suppression be penalized, when the world of sports is so widely varied anyway? No transgender athlete wants to compete in their preferred gender simply because they could get an edge. We want to compete in that gender because that is how we truly identify. If you look at transgender women and get angry at them for competing, why do you not get angry at athletes with exceptional ability who identify with their sex assigned at birth?

I wanted to take hormones long before I actually started treatment, and I finally changed my mind and started treatment because hearing “ladies step up” before the start of a race began to hurt just a bit too much.

I go to every swim meet with a plastic pocket filled with every piece of medical documentation and letters I have received which allows me to compete as a man, just in case some official or opposing coach decides to question me. No transgender athletes should have to fear abuse for being who they are and for following the rules laid out for them.

So Lia, if you are reading this, I know this is tough and you are just following the rules. I am so sorry the world is putting you at the face of this issue and I hope people can finally leave you alone, and talk about this more as an issue of transgender participation, not the world vs. Lia Thomas.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

88 Comments
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Josie
6 months ago

Sorry saying Lia is a woman is pure sexists and reduces women to sexist stereotypes. Women are a biological reality not a vague identity or feeling. Women matter. The support for ‘men who think they are women’ athletes shows a lack of respect for women.

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ana
5 months ago
Reply to  Josie

Thank you I agree 250%.

Also this:

“Lia Thomas experiences far more scrutiny over her physical form than I will ever have to deal with, and for that I say, Lia, I am so very sorry the world is being so mean to you. I hope people can come to see this isn’t about you and your identity as transgender. It’s about the larger policy, and people who are targetting you specifically need to understand that it is not your fault.”

This is pure BS. Lia knows what she’s doing: she wants to have the legacy of being the fastest women swimmer in UPENN history kowning no bio- woman will be able to break her record.

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Ron
5 months ago
Reply to  ana

She is a him ,she is not a she sorry this is wrong for girls sports ,she has A penis it’s a him not a she.

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Marcos Espinosa
5 months ago
Reply to  ana

You are out of your mind. Female and male biology are different. Just because you feel a certain way doesn’t change your physical form.
Chromosomes are a thing and don’t care about your feelings.

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Anonymous
5 months ago
Reply to  ana

Save it. She’s not a woman she’s a trans. If that’s what they want to be called. Even so she does not call herself a woman therefore she is not a woman and does not belong in the woman’s event there is a woman’s and there is a man’s that is all. She is in transition but she’s obviously not there yet. She should give us a call when she arrives. Until then throw her in with the men. As a sidenote Skyler Bailey is admirable, lia Thomas is a coward.

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Jen Sheezy
5 months ago
Reply to  Josie

Thank you for defending biological women athletes.

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Gretchen
5 months ago
Reply to  Jen Sheezy

Thank you Mr. Draper for your writing. I wish you, Lia and all trans swimmers the best.

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Sharon g hall
5 months ago
Reply to  Josie

So true they are still male in a female sport and should not be allowed to compete

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Tony Wayne Tingen
5 months ago
Reply to  Sharon g hall

If you are BORN MALE STAY IN MALE SPORTS.. IF YOU FEMALE STAY IN FEMALE SPORTS… YOU ARE BORN MALE & FEMALE…IF YOU ARE AT THE TOP OF YOUR SPORT THATS GREAT ITS LONLY AT THE TOP BUT REMEMBER YOU ARE THE BEST..AS GOD MADE YOU..

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David Anderson
5 months ago
Reply to  Josie

Kia has man hands and Man shoulders. Lia does not have fallopian tubes or a uterus. Lia has XY chromosomes. Follow the science or declare the NCAA an atheistic faith based organization.

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Anonymous
5 months ago
Reply to  David Anderson

You are correct Lia is a male and Lia will out perform most if not all females

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Ms.T
5 months ago
Reply to  David Anderson

So David Anderson a woman who has had a hysterectomy is not a woman?

A woman born without a vagina is not a woman.

A woman who can’t have a child is not a woman?

Now I can tell you from personal experience that going on HRT takes your strength away. Drains it all away.

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Blu
5 months ago
Reply to  Josie

The delusion you’re casting on people you don’t understand speaks volumes about you, not them.

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Reece
5 months ago
Reply to  Blu

Women growing up wanting to compete in sports aren’t going to be able to with your mentality. Granting someone a privilege to compete as a transgender person cripples the potential of other young women trying to enter a competitive sport.

Coaches and sports institutions will recruit transgender athletes to win to bring in more money. It isn’t ignorance. It’s data, fact, and basic science. If you want to identify as a woman, that’s okay. If you believe it makes you feel better, or you feel like it changes your life for the better, then do it, but how dare someone impede or affect the lives of others around them because of their wants and desires. Lia can still attempt to compete as a man if she so desired. If anything, being a transgender person and winning a title would be a fantastic accomplishment. Just because someone goes through hormonal therapy to change into another gender doesn’t mean they are now biologically equivalent to that gender. It’s the equivalent of men taking large amounts of steroids in sports as an advantage.

Stop commenting on people telling them they’re deluded when you give and have no real evidence to back up your intent

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Brittany Hartland
5 months ago
Reply to  Blu

Biological females have a higher bodyfat content making them more buoyant in the water and makes them more resilient to the cold water. So if we continue with this argument then it actually looks like biological females have an unfair advantage. I love how people with no real life experience in a matter as so sure they know what they are talking about. Let’s put it this way, Lia’s teammates are apparently just fine showering with Lia nude after the swim meet but yet they are uncomfortable swimming with her???…bahahaha!!! …sounds like someone is looking for cheap leverage. And for the rest of you, go get some experience. I challenge you to try and be a transgender person just for one day then come back here and we will talk…until then stfu!!!

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LiaIsAMan
3 months ago

You are obviously transgender and biased.

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texbatgirl
3 months ago

They don’t shower with her she has her own changing area.

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Nick
5 months ago
Reply to  Josie

Yes … Couldn’t agree more. Some Transgender women are one thin line from being men in drag. I mean LT looks like a man in drag at a swim meet. Her physical form in no way resembles that of a woman’s and she swims and looks like a man Even while wearing a female bathing suit.. Her gender identity, sexual orientation and overall subjective self image are none of my business… But she Doesn’t swim like a girl and has body of a man and that’s what needs to be taken into consideration. Furthermore, I feel like I am a great swimmer and should be on the yale swim team… but my feelings and Subjective self image doesn’t quite cut it for the Yale swim team does it now?

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Anonymous
6 months ago

Thank you Swimming World for sharing this view point. I appreciate the information the author has shared, especially about the NCAA guidelines, ITSA document and trans gender athlete studies. I agree with him that the focus should be on the NCAA and not Lia. Lia has followed the current guidelines, as the author points out. The real issue is that they are simply flawed guidelines that need to be addressed immediately. As Hogshead-makar pointed out, the average differential in male and female times and time standards is roughly 11.5%. When Lia is swimming roughly 11.5% slower across the board, to me, that is when the playing field (or lanes 😁) have been leveled. Unless hormone therapy can get her there, it will never be right.

I also appreciate the authors point that he chose the more difficult, yet easier, transition. I wonder if he is 11.5% faster than he was as a female swimmer ? Men out swim women and women out swim men every day. That is great because they are bringing to the table (or pool) that which they were given at birth. Those that say Michael Phelps has an unfair advantage because he is so tall and his wing span is greater than his height, and so on and so on And those that say Katy Ledecky has an unfair advantage because she’s tall and unusually strong for a girl might as well claim that Einstein had an unfair advantage because his IQ was so high or that Steven Hawking had an unfair advantage because his IQ was so high. OR that Lia also has an intellectual advantage because she is clearly intelligent enough to be an IVY league student/athlete! Pretty sure, no IVY admits those of average intelligence.

Please people, listen to yourselves. We are not physical, mental and social clones of each other. The world would be a dull grey landscape, if that were the case!

There are 2 sexes. 2 biologies (with very few exceptions) at birth. One is very clearly physically stronger, as a group, than the other. We don’t have the scientific means, currently, to choose a different gender and make the physical changes necessary to completely become the other gender, especially in such a compressed time frame. Possibly mentally and socially, this can be achieved. I do not know. But that is irrelevant to the current discussion regarding the validity and fairness of the NCAA rules. This author is correct that the issue isn’t really Lia. The issue is the NCAA and the Penn coach who knows this is not fair. That does not mean Lia should compete as a woman. She is not anywhere close to 11.5% slower across the board as she was when she competed as a man.

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Gretchen
5 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Nailed it. Thank you.

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ana
5 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

“This author is correct that the issue isn’t really Lia. The issue is the NCAA and the Penn coach who knows this is not fair. That does not mean Lia should compete as a woman. She is not anywhere close to 11.5% slower across the board as she was when she competed as a man,”

It is Lia’s fault. Just because the rules say she can compete doesn’t make right for her to compete. Lia is fully aware of what she is doing.

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John Vogel
6 months ago

I have coached swimming 30 plus years. Both male & female. Female athletes have progressed so much during this time. Our current age group swimmers have both male and female heroes to look up to. Now to allow a guy to compete as a female totally disrespects all of those accomplishments . We need to support and respect our female swimmers, not put them in a very unfair situation. Penn swimmers have started speaking out, as well as several past and current Olympic swimmers. Parents & coaches of age group female swimmers, need to also speak out, or be prepared to explain to their daughter why she is swimming against a guy.

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Blu
5 months ago
Reply to  John Vogel

They say ignorance is bliss but, I guess in this case ignorance just makes you pissed 🤷‍♀️ very unfortunate

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Craig L Jauvtis
5 months ago
Reply to  Blu

Lia has the right to live her life as a female but even with female hormones for a year, she has an unfair advantage over other female swimmers. She is breaking quite a few records. So according to you, she is the greatest female swimmer ever at UPENN??

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SETH
5 months ago
Reply to  Blu

Yes!

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Laura
5 months ago
Reply to  Blu

You’re obviously trans. Of course you refuse to acknowledge the physical reality that Lia still has a male body and thus an unfair advantage

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Pizza
4 months ago
Reply to  Blu

This is an empty comment. It means nothing and has nothing to do with what you are responding to. Which in turn shows your very own ignorance.

Transgender is a choice. Biological gender is not. I’m sure Lia is thrilled to be competing in such easy waters.

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Jay
6 months ago

I wonder what would be the next logical move for me to make, if I were a coach of women’s swimming at another school in this league. What if I and the other coaches in the league woke up to the fact that in order to compete with Penn, we would need to recruit our own Lia Thomas’, or we and our teams will be left in the dust. The logical conclusion of this thought experiment is pretty clear–women swimmers of the Ivies can just step aside, to make way for the necessary inclusion of more men like Lia, or they can resign themselves as a team to losing…of course either scenario is odious, but hey, we all have to be kind, right? Right?

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Stuart
6 months ago

Lia is a man. Nothing else need to be said. Regardless of the NCAA’s stupidity he does not have to compete against women.

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Laurie
5 months ago
Reply to  Stuart

Agree 1000%!!

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Mary Shore
5 months ago
Reply to  Stuart

The coward can’t beat men so had to try the women.So disgusting

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Ken
5 months ago
Reply to  Mary Shore

You are comparing apples to oranges. Your argument is flawed. We aren’t taling about little league baseball where where boys far outnumber girls to justify league creation. Lia knew exactly what she was doing and should have expected concerns. After all, her times as a male would match her times as a female.

I agree that the NCAA, like other governing bodies ultimately have the burden to address issues like this. They weren’t prepared despite their efforts, most likely because this is a challenging issue. Swimming is not my sport, however the answer lies with the transgender community in conjunction with the NCAA staff using sound, fair judgment to female athletes who find themselves in the crossfire for just sticking up for what is right. One idea would be to have her times appropriately adjusted based on a male times formula to account for the 11 or so percent advantage.
.

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Nati
5 months ago
Reply to  Mary Shore

Exactly. He also still could have went through his change but still choose to swim with he men’s team. No he didn’t. He may have transition over to being a woman, and I’m happy for him but he still wants to dominate women like some men sickly wants to do.

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Katherine Williams
6 months ago

While your article is well written and researched, it does not actually address the fact that Lia went from a middling swimmer her first three years to a record-holding dynamo this season. In fact, you take great pains to dodge that subject. All of your explanations about the NCAA’s policies for trans athletes are meaningless, as you don’t use any of your data to address or defend the fact that Leah came in 38 seconds ahead of the second place finisher or that she now holds multiple national records, a miraculous reversal of fortune, indeed, for a senior with an average performance record the first 3 years on the team. Did you actually watch the reels from the Zippy? Or any of her October meets? Because as a cis woman, with a daughter who swims, my heart sank. Believing Lia’s right to compete is more important than the rights of thousands of cis women to compete is the height of privilege. Who could celebrate such a hollow victory? What narcissism. The emperor is naked.

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Nora
5 months ago

As stated the article is not to continue discussing Lia but to instead discuss the process of how trans athletes are handled by the NCAA. Please understand that targeting her does nothing.

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Mom
5 months ago
Reply to  Nora

Lia is not absolved from responsibility for this. She could have swam another year as a male, or request to swim exhibition.

Trans athletes should compete in men’s categories.

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Critical Thinker
5 months ago

Don’t feel compelled to use the prefix cis. Cisgender was coined in 1994 and only entered mainstream usage in 2014/2015. It was originally used in organic chemistry and means “to the side of”. It is now used as a way to portray non-trans people as the ones who are different. I have no problem with trans people living their lives they way they want and being welcomed contributing members of society. I have a problem when they change language to marginalize women or decide that women now need to define themselves further. In legal arguments the use of language has clouded the distinction between men and women. In the trial of CT transgender runners, the judge required the transgender girls to only be referred to “females” and “girls” so there could be no distinction to even have an argument. Women must not let the words that define us change. It is not an attack on transgender women to insist there is a difference and that sex is immutable. It is an attack on women to insist otherwise.

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Cheryl Johnson
5 months ago

This. The attack on language which makes having any reasonable discussion impossible, needs to stop.

I’m guessing that soon people will need to identify by DNA. No longer Women’s swimming but rather XY swimming. And as has always been the policy, no doping… Meaning that an XY sport athlete may not take testosterone or any other.

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Clay Kennedy
5 months ago

How are we even defending this? Where has our society gone?

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SETH
6 months ago

Thank you Mr. Draper, your reasonable and detailed opinion piece is most welcome. It is the person, in this case, Ms. Thomas, that is important as you clearly point out, and diversity in the swimming will only make it a better sport for all.

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Critical Thinker
5 months ago
Reply to  SETH

This is not diversity in swimming. This is utter nonsense.
This is supporting the rights of the male-body to take over what it means to be female.
Diversity is celebrating our differences. Lia is excluding women from competing and recognition the deserve. Inclusion is never achieved at the exclusion of women.
Diversity would look like Lia swimming against sex-based equivalents and being celebrated for those accomplishments as well as the life Lia chooses to lead!
Diversity is a good thing and sex cannot be changed.

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A e L
5 months ago

Your mistake is in thinking the person you replied to uses the word “Inclusion” to mean “including people”, to Social Justice types it actually means “centering marginalised groups, and EXCLUDING anyone who makes them uncomfortable”. SO their solution to women speaking up about this is to simply remove US, in favour of the men who think they are women (who are doubly oppressed because they are trans AND women, you see!)

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Laurie
5 months ago

Human sex is binary and immutable. Lia is and always will be a male. Bodies swim, not identities or feelings. Lia has a male body and should swim as a male, or swim in exhibition. Females are not a hormone level, they are determined at conception. NCAA needs to get rid of their ridiculous woke gender ideology and change the rules to conform to reality.

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LiaXY
5 months ago
Reply to  SETH

Rarely read such a daft virtue signal before.

For all. Except all the females that have no chance of beating a male.

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Dana Caragine
6 months ago

Admire you, respect the time you’ve invested in writing about this, and acknowledge the deep courage you show in living your life as science and policy slowly synchronize.

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Robert
5 months ago

Thank you for our article. I am a 60 year old gay man and still find the transgender issue confusing. It is something not part of my personal reality or identity, but I am always impressed with people that have the courage to be who they feel they are. I feel I need to remind everyone that Ms Thomas has gone through hormone therapy and is not a man, as people have said in the comments. I feel I should also point out that there are cisgender female athletes with high testosterone levels being barred from certain sports, unless they also go through hormone treatments. This is not right. Nor is the anger and discrimination focused on Ms Thomas. Should every athlete be tested to see if they are the ‘correct’ gender before they compete? Where do we stop? It sounds as if the rules may need to be amended using the newest data, but until that time – follow the current rules. I can only hope the Lia has the ability persevere through this and move forward with her life. I know none of her critics will take responsibility for their hateful comments and actions if, God forbid, something happens to her.

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Critical Thinker
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert

There are not women being required to take hormones who have high testosterone levels – ie Castor Semenya and a few other track athletes. Those athletes are XY with Developmental Sex Disorders – that means their sex organs developed internally. They went through male puberty and development and have access to testosterone that their competition is not allowed to use or access. This is patently unfair. They are biologically men who were never diagnosed properly. Being unaware that you are a male does not make you female.
It is not hateful to want fair competition for women. Sex is immutable. People should be accepted and loved for who they are and how they want to live, but they do not have a right to defy logic, science and fairness.

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Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert

Lia is still a biological male even after therapy.
Humans don’t have the ability to turn a man into a women or vice versus. We can down regulate certain sexed base attributes …mostly cosmetic but to say she is no longer a man is wrong.

Saying this respectfully

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A e L
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert

Hormones have nothing to do with whether you are a man or a woman, a man with low testosterone is still a man

Human beings cannot change sex, I am appalled that you have apparently lived 60 years without discovering this fact.

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Craig
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert

One year of hormones will not help level the playing with between her and other swimmers.

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TransIsaLie
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert

She is definitelt a man. It is not disputable in any way. Facts dont care about your feelings. XY = man.

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Deb
5 months ago

So proud of you Lucas, for an outstanding article on a difficult subject.

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Greg
5 months ago

The defense from the trans community of “ show us where trans athletes are dominating “ is beside the point and has nothing to do with the heart of the issue.
The real question is do biological males retain any of their advantages after transitioning over biological females?
The science says yes. And it doesn’t take a genius to see Lia retained a lot of her male adaptation.
Then they say well some athletes are taller or have bigger feet or wing span etc. that may be true but that needs to be compared in same sex category to ensure fairness.
Phelps may have some physical advantages but it’s over other males. Same with Ledecky. In the women’s category she has advantages that make her the best ever. Throw her in the male category, then she’s mediocre.
If Phelps transitioned, he’d make Lia look like an idiot because his athletic base is far superior to Lia’s. Then if Lia was getting beat by Michael would we dismiss her advantage over the other biological women and suddenly reverse course and say it’s ok for her to compete in the women’s division cause she’s no longer “winning”? Of course not.
It’s real simple, sport in most instances is XX and XY racing for us to get the fairest sense of greatness.

It needs to stay that way and it’s not phobic, racist or bigoted to suggest that .

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A e L
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

The real issue is that men and women are different, everyone knows thins and has always known this, and this current absurd fad of pretending these words do not mean anything or are “just an opinion” is as idiotic as it is destructive.

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Joe
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Thomas was an average male college swimmer before transitioning and is dominating as a female. Until an elite level athlete transitions and makes an even bigger mockery of records and completion this farce will continue. Imagine if Jenner had transitioned in 1975, the year before setting the world record in the decathlon at the Montreal olympics.

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Paula Tichenor
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Amen!

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Fails the Pub test
5 months ago

The rules that allow Lia to compete should be changed.
The debate exists because we are confusing “equality of the sexes” with “equality of the sexes in sport.”
In sport, there is separation between men and women which we have all accepted – for a reason.
Trying to wedge a transgender woman into women’s sport is unfair to women.
It’s great Mia was able to transition but she should be saddened that she could not compete in womens’ gendered sport and withdraw.
As a competitor, I can not imagine taking joy in winning this way.

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Ivan
5 months ago

A man with so many psyhical issues, is let to compete vs real athletes and you call this fair. You in USA have bad times I can see…

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Trinity
5 months ago
Reply to  Ivan

I have nothing against transgender or LGBTQ+ people. However, a person who was born male with all the physical attributes of a man, and then once he’s maxed out his growth and wasn’t doing all that well competing as a man decides to be a woman so that he could compete against women who were born with smaller female physiques – that’s completely unfair to the women! Most of our competition sports have separated males from females to make it fair for both. Now to have a man grow his hair own and change his name to Lia so that he could compete against natural women is unfair. I don’t know what could be done for people like Lia, but to have him compete against natural women who were not born with male hormones to give them the athletic advantage that he has, is not fair or right. Maybe create a separate competition category for trans people to compete against each other?

I am a mother of a swimmer daughter. I don’t want her to be disadvantaged by large men who decides that they’re women so that they can compete against smaller women such as my daughter and her female teammates.

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Mike
5 months ago
Reply to  Trinity

I am a gay man. This Trans agenda has hijacked all of our organizations and most gays and lesbians are vilified and attacked by trans activists if we dare speak against it. Fact us, biology is REAL. Lia is a biological MALE. Lucas is a biological FEMALE. These are truths, and we are being gaslight, intimidated, terrorized and threatened to pretend we don’t know reality.
I hope L’s and G’s are not judged and hated due to Trans activist craziness. I don’t agree with any of this. It’s unfair to female athletes.

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Anonymous
5 months ago

Transgenders should compete against transgenders, period. If there aren’t enough transgender athletes to do that then these athletes should compete with their biological sex if they want to compete. Lia can choose her identity (whether I agree with that choice is not relevant) but the fact remains that she was born a male. There is a reason that men don’t compete against women and vise versa at the Olympics in swimming or in most sports for that matter. Mixed relays in competitions are split evenly for a reason. These are the facts and should not be ignored.

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Anna
5 months ago

Where were these critics when girls took boy’s spots on football, hockey, soccer, etc teams? If that was ok then surely it’s ok for the reverse.

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Anna
5 months ago

Boys should be allowed on girls teams just like girls are allowed on boys teams.

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A e L
5 months ago
Reply to  Anna

Should young men be allowed on seniors teams like seniors are allowed in young men’s teams? If men can join women’s teams, there are no women’s teams, and no place anywhere for women athletes.

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Anonymous
5 months ago
Reply to  Anna

You are comparing apples to oranges. Your argument is flawed. We aren’t taling about little league baseball where where boys far outnumber girls to justify league creation. Lia knew exactly what she was doing and should have expected concerns. After all, her times as a male would match her times as a female.

I agree that the NCAA, like other governing bodies ultimately have the burden to address issues like this. They weren’t prepared despite their efforts, mostly likely because this is a challenging issue. Swimming is not my sport, however the answer lies with the transgender community in conjunction with the NCAA staff using sound, fair judgment to female athletes who find themselves in the crossfire for just sticking up for what is right. One idea would be to have her times appropriately adjusted based on a male times formula to account for the 11 or so percent advantage
.

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Pizza
4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

NCAA is completely in the wrong. Their overall goal is fair treatment and equal opportunity. How is it equal opportunity, when women’s sports has to be developed for women to at least be able to enjoy sports and competition at all in the first place? NCAA is too worried about language over biology. They are using the “pronoun argument” as a guideline to judge what to do with the sport dilemma.

They are also worried about what they see as a growing population and what rights they may have to fight for in the future etc… But what they are ignoring, are the rights of those women who put every ounce of their being to develop themselves to their greatest. But women never seem to matter, and it becomes “shame on those awful women for not accepting Lia…” And women are so often cowed into compliance…again. Conned into thinking they are doing the “right thing” by sacrificing themselves again.

Shame on the Penn State coach for cheating, using a loophole, and taking advantage of political issues to throw in a ringer.

People have to make choices in life. If I choose not to go to apply to medical school, I can’t become a doctor. If you choose to become transgender, you choose to no longer compete as an athlete, or to continue to compete as a man.

Shame on Lia for stealing the rewards of her sisters on her team. She may be winning for Penn, but she’s losing for women.

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Sara
5 months ago
Reply to  Anna

As a mother of a girl swimmer, I know how insanely hard these girls work, and how much their times mean to them. I have been able to see her attain a relay pool record and the absolute joy she had at that moment is a memory I hold dear. To know that the bar for these records could be put out of her reach in this way breaks my heart. The point of having separate sex teams is so that women have a place to compete and the current NCAA policy is taking that away from them.

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David Abineri
5 months ago

What is the matter with out governing bodies? FINA allowed rubber suits without sufficient testing and conversation and the NCAA makes up rules again without enough data and discussion. These organizations are supposed to be governing our sport but they seem extremely short sighted in what seems like making up rules on a whim rather than any amount of careful consideration of the issues.

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ana
5 months ago

Thank you I agree 250%.

Also this:

“Lia Thomas experiences far more scrutiny over her physical form than I will ever have to deal with, and for that I say, Lia, I am so very sorry the world is being so mean to you. I hope people can come to see this isn’t about you and your identity as transgender. It’s about the larger policy, and people who are targetting you specifically need to understand that it is not your fault.”

This is pure BS. Lia knows what she’s doing: she wants to have the legacy of being the fastest women swimmer in UPENN history knowing no bio- woman will be able to break her record.

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Ed Anderson
5 months ago

This is a good article and I agree that Lia is “simply following the rules laid out for her”. The issue I have is comparing physical attributes of trans women against cis women. The comparison should be against the individual when they were living as the male gender. In other words, Lia’s times when she competed as Will Vs Lia’s times now. Her 200 time has gone from 1.39 to 1.41. A fairly insignificant difference. She still clearly retains a benefit from her training as a man.

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GWJ
5 months ago
Reply to  Ed Anderson

I can only sympathize for individuals under such scrutiny and societal chaos, but there seems to be confusion in regards to gender verses sex. Yes, one can choose to exhibit female behaviors or male behaviors based on cultural norms and environmental adaptions. BUT an individuals SEX is determined at meiosis. XY identifies you as MALE and XX identifies you as FEMALE, and regardless of our disregard for concrete science, males/females are developed during gestation, not by surgeons and no amount of hormone therapy or surgery can CHANGE CHROMOSOMES.

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Tara
5 months ago

Sorry, but using she/her pronouns does NOT make her a female. “She” will NEVER have a uterus and ovaries, she’ll NEVER menstruate, and she’ll NEVER give birth. She can pretend to be a woman and live her life as one but she will never be a female. When she’s long dead and nothing but bones, a DNA test will still prove that she was a male.

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Joe macho
5 months ago

Freaks should only be able to perform in the circus.

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Andy
5 months ago

“She is a woman, she uses she/her pronouns, and any reference to her otherwise is offensive.”

This is not true. You can repeat a lie if you wish but if doesn’t make it any more true. A person can insist they are a pineapple and ask people to refer to them as such, but it doesn’t make them a pineapple. And the way the transgender supporters try to shut down all debate of this complex topic by saying “this is the way it is and anyone who says otherwise is a bigot” is offensive. And wrong.

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Jaime Martinez
5 months ago

Sorry on proir comment forgot to leave my name Lia you need to drop out women’s team and join men’s team it is not fair to women’s swim team

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Tom Burnham
5 months ago

I feel sorry for those who struggle with the issues of being transgender. This is not about them as a person, it is fairness in sport. There are people all over this world with various struggles. Fairness is about allowing all people to compete on an equal playing field. Being a biological man competing against women does give unfair advantage. If Lia wants to swim that is fine, but not at the disadvantage of other swimmers who do not have an equal chance when competing.

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John
5 months ago

I identify as a coffee table.
With whom can I compete?

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Swimfan25
5 months ago

One google search of the author shows that he used to swim for another college’s swim team on the women’s roster in 2020-2021. It’s funny how all transgender people, whether female to male or male to female, seem to all end up competing on the women’s teams or not at all (sort of like how all kinds of transgender prisoners somehow end up in women’s prison, but I digress.) It feels very much like a zero sum game where women are expected to sacrifice their space and boundaries for every kind of transgender person. And it goes without saying that “one year of hormone therapy” doesn’t magically level the playing field between men and women in sports anymore than hormones can magically change a person’s biological sex. If this were true, Lia would be as mediocre an athlete as a woman as he was as a man. This hormone magic would also mean that female to male transgender people should be able to perform at the same athletic level as biological males in sports. But I somehow doubt we’ll be seeing Mr. Draper dominating men’s swimming any time soon.

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Michael Cape
5 months ago

Since almost no parent would ever agree to a sex change before puberty, this will never be a fair playing field. Case in Point: My daughter is a competitive swimmer who currently beats most if not all boys in tournaments. However, once these kids hit puberty that will all go away in dramatically short period of time.

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Reggie
5 months ago

A lot people seem to forget other people are affected by the decision he or she made, this is just my opinion, transgenders are some of the most selfish people l have run across it’s only there feeling that counts and nobody else

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Alex
5 months ago

Thanks so much for writing an article based on science and not anecdote. We need more of tat.

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Benjamin
5 months ago

Nice try. Well written and articulate. Problem. XX, XY. Biology 101. No feelings, no politics. Just science at the most basic level.

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Andrea
5 months ago

I was a former track & field athlete for 6 years, swimmer for 1 year, & later played WOMEN’S flag football & Women’s tackle football. As a person I agree that whatever choices someone makes regarding their gender is their choice. However, as an woman & athlete I agree this is wrong & destroying women’s sports & the right to compete in a fair playing field! Regardless of how much hormone therapy you receive or what YOU want to be identified as, at the end of the day your chromosomes are still either XY or XX a man or a woman. I hate the Penn State women’s team & their competitors are being subjected to such unfair practices. I say if transgender athletes want to compete they should have their own sports league to compete against other transgender athletes. Now that would be fair!

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Chris
5 months ago

Hey LGBT Men who identify as women: You all state that you want equality, but when it’s given to you, it’s not enough. What you REALLY want is an advantage. So F*ck off.

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Kate Malers
5 months ago

Brittany Hartland is hilarious. She “loves” how so many people with no real experience in a matter are so sure they know what they are talking about, and IN THE NEXT SENTENCE tells us that Lia’s teammates shower nude with her and have no problem with that. Brittany Hartland: You are not on the Penn Women’s Swimming and Diving roster for 2021-22 or for last year either, so do tell: How it is that you know anything about showering habits on that swim team and/or the feelings of those showering athletes?

Here is what I know from experience: women who have trained and lifted and worked for years do rightly care A LOT about the fairness of competition in their sport.

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Dristle Franco
3 months ago

Your strong opinions probably don’t allow you to receive counters well, but regardless if you read the CONCLUSION of Dr. Devries’ study you see that he does not conclude anything. He used deductive reasoning to indicate that your whole opinion basis was a possibility, but reiterated that this was not from studying athletes and there was lack of relevant data that could support at this time.

Pulling quotes from his analytical theories does not even factor in training (before AND after the transition) and the natural muscle build up that occurred before the transition (did we leave out that he competed in Men’s swimming as well?…. So clearly some training occurred before his transition).

Ah, but this kind of information wouldn’t help your stance… best to leave information out that hurts your argument….

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Chowman
3 months ago

The NCAA has lost their minds. This is a disservice to woman athletes worldwide. No Lia Thomas isn’t a woman, he’s a man that’s pretending to be a woman. That’s cool, he can pretend to be whatever he wants. When I was 5 I pretended I was Captain America. Not everybody went along with me, and not everybody has to go along with him. Be a woman in your own mind, but compete against other men when it comes to sports, because you have all musculature of a man. Him winning a swimming championship aor shattering records accomplishes nothing. it would be like a grown man playing little league baseball. It cheapens anything he does. And hurts women’s sports as many women will give up cause they have no chance against a biological MAN! Sorry this isn’t a heartwarming story, its a farce!

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Screw the Left!
3 months ago

The need is there to have a “Trans Olympics” or “Trans Competition League”. That way 50% of a demographic voting block is not canceled by the Left. Instead, the Left wants to create chaos to break down the system. The Left hates competition (i.e. Capitalism), because they are “Moochers” (not “Producers”) according to Ayn Rand and cannot achieve ANYTHING they have to compete for. The can only propagandize and “take” leaving everyone in society wallowing in their misery.

The real enemy is George Soros!!!!! He is an American Oligarch (originally from Yugoslavia), who is interested in hedging against the American currency. He (and is propagandized Son) should be kicked out of the US, as he was from France.