Lia Thomas Fighting World Aquatics Transgender Ruling With Legal Action

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Lia Thomas, the first transgender NCAA champion, spoke after winning the NCAA championship that her career was not over.

A year later, a report by The Telegraph says Thomas is challenging the World Aquatics ruling on transgender women who have gone through puberty as a man.

The World Aquatics rule in 2022 prevented transgender women from competing in women’s categories for elite meets, but instead developed an open category separate from men’s or women’s.

Without many transgender swimmers at that level, there have been no entries at any World Aquatics meets yet.

Meanwhile, Lia Thomas has been arguing her case to overturn that rule so she can compete in elite women’s races. Before the 2022 ruling, transgender women could compete if they lowered their testosterone levels, according to The Guardian. Thomas has not made any public comment about the case.

According to The Telegraph report, Thomas hired a Canadian law firm and took the case to Switzerland’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in September, claiming the ruling is discriminatory.

“Lia has now had the door closed to her in terms of her future ability to practice her sport and compete at the highest level,” her attorney Carlos Sayao said. “She’s bringing the case for herself and other trans women to ensure that any rules for trans women’s participation in sport are fair, appropriate, and grounded in human rights and science.”

World Aquatics defended its policy. Executive Director Brent Nowicki said the inclusion policy
“was rigorously developed on the basis of advice from leading medical and legal experts, and in careful consultation with athletes. World Aquatics remains confident that its gender inclusion policy represents a fair approach, and remains absolutely determined to protect women’s sport.”

No public ruling has occurred in the case.

Thomas was on the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swim team for three years before transitioning in 2019.

Thomas then joined Penn’s women’s team as a senior and won the NCAA championship in the 500 freestyle, causing an uproar within the swim community questioning the fairness of competition for someone who transitions after going through male puberty.

The NCAA initially put the decision to USA Swimming to rule on the situation, but then reversed course and said Lia Thomas hadn’t broken any of the NCAA rules and allowed her to compete.

Thomas has maintained she did not transition to become a champion in the pool.

“The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned,” Lia Thomas said in 2022. “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.”

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2 months ago

She wants to “practice her sport, and compete at the highest level”? Great news! Nobody is stopping her from practicing, and men’s pro swimming is probably the highest level.

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