Without NCAA Action, the Effects of Lia Thomas Situation Are Akin to Doping

Lia Thomas

Without NCAA Action, the Effects of Lia Thomas Case Are Akin to Doping

As the NCAA Board of Governors prepares to meet to discuss, among other topics, its policy regarding the inclusion of transgender athletes, Swimming World is re-running this column that was previously posted in response to the Lia Thomas debate. 

The advantages afforded Kornelia Ender were transformational. The benefits reaped by Kristin Otto made her a global superstar. The boost enjoyed by Michelle Smith took her from also-ran status to Olympic champion. It’s simple: Performance-enhancing substances have – at various points in history – altered the dynamic of the sport.

If not for the systematic doping program of East Germany, Shirley Babashoff would be an individual Olympic gold medalist. Enith Brigitha would hold that title, too. So would Sharron Davies. And if not for the obvious doping of Smith, the Irish lass whose career arc is laughable, Marianne Limpert and Allison Wagner would be referred to as Olympic titlists.

Who will lose out next?

Shirley-Babashoff-Mission-V (1)

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World Magazine

The influence of doping occupies no small chapter in the sport’s history. Numerous athletes – through individualized decisions – have tainted competition through their use of illicit drugs. Some countries – notably East Germany and China – have developed national-level programs designed to attain powerhouse status. Either way, wreckage has been left behind, the greatest casualties those clean athletes beaten and knocked down, or off the podium.

The newest predicament facing the sport is not one of rampant doping, but a complex scenario with an outcome that could be as damning. Yes, we’re discussing the Lia Thomas saga – again. It’s a debate not soon to go away, and with each passing day toward the NCAA Championships in March, the potential of Thomas racing for a Division I crown becomes a more pressing issue.

To review, Thomas is a transgender senior on the University of Pennsylvania women’s team and has produced several performances through the early portion of the season that suggest she will be an NCAA title contender. Previously, she was a three-year member of the men’s squad at Penn and was talented enough to earn All-Ivy League honors.

Her shift from the men’s team to the women’s team is a result of Thomas’ transition to female, and after fulfilling the NCAA’s requirement of one year of testosterone suppressant use, she is eligible to compete in collegiate competition as a member of a women’s program. The problem: The NCAA’s one-year suppressant requirement is not nearly stringent enough to create a level playing field between Thomas and the biological females against whom she is racing.

Swimming World staffers have penned several articles on the Lia Thomas debate/controversy, ranging from overviews of the situation to columns. And as this story continues to unfold, we will continue to report and deliver opinion. In this current piece, there is a need to look at Thomas’ athletic skill set in comparison to the advantages doping has provided certain athletes.

Despite the hormone suppressants she has taken, in accordance with NCAA guidelines, Thomas’ male-puberty advantage has not been rolled back or mitigated an adequate amount. The fact is, for nearly 20 years, she built muscle and benefited from the testosterone naturally produced by her body. That strength does not disappear overnight, nor with a year’s worth of suppressants. Consequently, Thomas dives into the water with an inherent advantage over those on the surrounding blocks.

Kristin Otti

Kristin Otto

Flash back to the 1970s and 1980s. When the likes of Ender and Otto powered through the water, en route to Olympic titles, they enjoyed a massive advantage over the competition. Babashoff couldn’t keep up. Neither could Brigitha. Why? They were competing against women who were fed steroids and reaped the rewards – most notably enhanced strength.

As Ender moved through the water, her stroke was more powerful and more efficient than the stroke of her rivals, allowing her to cover more ground with each cycle. Otto could push off the walls with greater force. And Smith, who dominated at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, maintained her top end speed and endurance for a longer period than her foes.

From a mental perspective, doping-fueled athletes also possessed an upper hand. For clean athletes, the knowledge they were headed into a race already playing catchup was a blow to the system. Questions lingered before the starting beep. How can I keep up? Is there anything I can do to negate their advantage? Why has this setting been allowed?

Thomas enjoys similar advantages.

Meanwhile, officials of the past turned a blind eye to the situation. Although positive tests were not typically returned, it didn’t take a genius to recognize that doping was at play. Administrators and referees swallowed their words, afraid of being branded for taking an accusatory stance. The NCAA, it can be argued, has taken that same approach via its lax requirements related to transgender females. The science used by the NCAA to determine its transgender-inclusion policy is more than a decade old.

Let’s get this out of the way, because some readers will argue we are calling Lia Thomas a doper – regardless of the information presented and the selected verbiage. That is not the case. There is no intent. What we are stating is this: The effects of being born a biological male, as they relate to the sport of swimming, offer Thomas a clear-cut edge over the biological females against whom she is competing. She is stronger. It is that simple. And this strength is beneficial to her stroke, on turns and to her endurance. Doping has the same effect.

According to NCAA rules, Thomas has met expectations for participation. But for Thomas to suggest she does not have a significant advantage, as she did in one interview, is preposterous at best, and denial at worst. It is on the NCAA to adjust its bylaws in the name of fair competition for the thousands of swimmers who compete at the collegiate level. It is also on Thomas to acknowledge her edge. The suppressants she has taken account for an approximate 2% to 3% change. The time difference between male and female swimming records is roughly 11%.

Providing Thomas with an opportunity to exhibition and record times while in peak condition would be a suitable decision by the NCAA. Inclusion for Thomas is necessary – in some form. However, allowing her to register times against athletes who are at an undeniable disadvantage would not be acceptable.

Last spring, Virginia’s Paige Madden, who represented Team USA at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, won the NCAA title in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:33.61. Thomas owns a best time of sub-4:20 and recently went 4:34 during a midseason invitational. Even if Thomas does not get near her best time, she seems likely to go faster later in this season and easily win the NCAA title in the 500 free. How is that scenario – in the slightest way – considered legitimate?

Through anonymous means, due to fear of retribution, members of the Penn women’s team and their parents have spoken out against the participation of Thomas in women’s competition. Good for them. Good for speaking out against an injustice. Now, the NCAA needs to act, and it needs to act quickly. This scenario – with the effects of doping – cannot linger. For the good of the sport, and for fairness to those competing as biological women, a ruling must come down soon.

If it doesn’t, the NCAA just doesn’t care.

115 comments

  1. avatar
    Fairness Must Matter

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    As a former All- American female athlete and the mother of female athletes who need sports to be fair, I feel like crying with joy that somebody gets this! So many of my friends who were also former female elite athletes are trying to figure out how to band together to effect change. Please keep the dialogue going so that we don’t feel alone.

    • avatar
      GARY GARRETSON

      All this has been brought to you by your politically correct liberal democrat`s they do not care about anything but winning at any cost , turn the whole world into a nightmare mess so they alone can rule .

      • avatar
        Bruce Andrews

        Liberals, Democrats are evil, however, know this that 2022 will be the end of the Democrats. There will be a Red sweep such as never been before. This is GOD that will do this.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        Bruce that has nothing to do with this discussion. Keep you crazy to yourself!!

      • avatar
        Corie

        I am a liberal dem and I do not believe this is right nor do any of my lib friends and family members. The media does a great job making libs look insane with stuff like this.

      • avatar
        V Hayden

        I am a liberal and I, and others I know, do not agree with what is happening with transwomen in sports or anywhere else that invades cisgender women space. Please don’t lump us all in together. We – the majority of us – are not looking to rule anyone or anything. We’re struggling to survive just like the rest of you.
        Get real.

  2. avatar
    MarshMadness

    Making Lia ineligible is the worst thing the NCAA can do at this point. She’s followed all of the NCAA’s rules regarding transgender swimmers, and if the NCAA changed its rules midseason, it’d be opening itself up to litigation.

    Should the NCAA’s rules change? Probably. But that should be done after the current scholastic year.

    • avatar
      R. Grade

      I agree with you in general, but context & timing is important to understand in this case.
      Lia changed genders mid eligibility, so in this particular instance it’s reasonable to adjust the rule
      matrix in a similar manner, otherwise the system risks being gamed for gain.

      Only in very recent years has gender identity and the definition of transgenderism been dramatically re-envisioned and people are asked to accept it all, often without question or rigorous scientific and democratic debate.
      Worse, anyone who does is often shut down or canceled for asking logical and reasonable questions.

      Insuring natal females rights to compete fairly remains crucial to maintaining the integrity of any women’s sport.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        Amen

      • avatar
        V Hayden

        Absolutely. And it’s particularly offensive when you hear reports, such as the one that came out yesterday, about Lia not covering up “her” male genitals in the locker room! Disgusting!

      • avatar
        V Hayden

        Absolutely. And it is particularly offensive when you hear stories, like the one that came out yesterday, where Lia has not covered “her” male genitalia in the locker room!

    • avatar
      Nonymous

      If the NCAA cares more about getting sued by one athlete than about preserving the integrity of the sport, that is another significant problem that should be discussed.

      • avatar
        D Kane

        Thomas has received the full developmental benefits of testosterone combined with strenuous training to develop the full strength of an adult MALE swimmer. Thomas’s female competitors have not had the advantage of 10 years of testosterone enabled development. So yes, Thomas received the benefits of a hormone not available to any other female swimmer. That’s my definition of doping for unfair advantage.

    • avatar
      Ben Cross

      If we take the stance, “, , , thats what the current rules are and therefore Thomas should sue the NCAA”. Lets allow every wife raped by her husband repeatedly for years since they are married, and the 9 and 10 year old Afgan child brides brought here in August repeatedly raped by thier “husbands” because that is thier beliefs/religion etc. . . Just because a human tribunal made a law or rule etc. . .doesnt mean we erred in a ctastrophic manner and requires instantaneous remedy (e.g. rule change NOW). To destroy a caonfident young woman fullof promise becuase she is. . . . . .. A REAL WOMAN, (you know that pesky choice she made between the x or y chromosome in the DNA ? ) Im sure we have all seen the karyotype of Thomas when it changed from Y to an X mid season last year!

      • avatar
        MarshMadness

        There are a few things everyone here is missing. NCAA president Mark Emmert can’t just make immediate rule changes because that’s not how the organization is structured. There needs to be approval from the member schools, which probably wouldn’t happen in time for NCAAs in March. Even if it did, Thomas could sue the NCAA for injunctive relief and win by showing that she followed all of the NCAA’s rules for transgender competitors before a rushed rule change made her ineligible.

    • avatar
      Matthew Booher

      Follow the science – the chromosomes say that that is a male.

      He is mentally and spiritually ill and needs help. Not swimming titles earned as a male competing against females.

      He should be ashamed of himself.

      Again, follow the science…

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        Amen brother Matt.

      • avatar
        Penelope

        Thank you, Matthew, for referring to Lia Thomas as a male! That’s what he is regardless of everyone else pretending along with him that he is female. I’m talking about the pronouns everyone is using! Call a spade a spade!!

      • avatar
        Joe

        “Follow the science”. And then you say “spiritually?” Hahahaha. Mentioning a spirit doesn’t help your credibility when trying to argue in favor of science. FYI.

      • avatar
        Y'all suck.

        Wow. What a grotesque and ignorant turn this conversation took. You holier than thou old farts are awful people. Go ahead and judge those different than you and bury yourself in an anger hole. This conversation should be geared towards poorly thought out rules and regulations, not bigotry towards people’s choices. The good news is that your antiquated ignorance will ultimately disappear with you…

    • avatar
      Bruce Andrews

      Transgender is an abomination to GOD. GOD’s law forbids perverts (including Transgender, LBGT, homosexuals). I ask everyone not to support ANY organization that allows these perverts to participate!

      • avatar
        Joe

        Bruce! You’re a bigot dude! Oh also, your magic “Sky friend” is as real as the tooth fairy. God doesn’t exist. Religion is a scam organization that protects child molesting priests. So why would you use god/religion to argue against ANYTHING??? You look ridiculous, naive, or even even worse, a child milestone apologist

    • avatar
      Pat

      Lia’s BODY is still that of a male. And that MALE BODY was grown for years prior to any competitions at PENN. So stop with the blindness. Your misogyny is showing.

  3. avatar
    Tsoltys

    Thanks for continuing this all important topic on
    advocating for a level and fair platform for women’s sports. The NCAA needs to step up and protect the rights of women in sports. This should never had been allowed.

  4. avatar
    Steve

    Whatever gender you declare when you start your NCAA eligibility should stand for your entire eligibility. The normal 5-year window is too short to accommodate a gender change with hormone replacement treatments in a meaningful way. Make that the first rule change then move on the deal with people who change gender before they go to college and use the science to ensure we have fair competition.

    • avatar
      Mike

      It doesn’t matter. If any man ever wins in a women’s competition, regardless of what restrictions you put in place, you will never be able to objectively prove or even define how it was “fair.” You artificially created a new woman-athlete, with artificially defined performance relative to the field, performance that, based on the particular limitations applied turned out to be worse than he was but still better than all of that field. With a tighter restriction he wouldn’t have turned into a winner. So it’s fair if the restriction is set so that he ends up becoming just barely a winner? And if winning isn’t fair, then what is the point at all?

    • avatar
      Tono

      No, Steve. “Gender” is all in a man or woman’s mind. It shouldn’t matter in sports. It is a competitor’s sex that matters. “Lia” Thomas is a man, and I thoroughly disagree with you that your sex is something you can “declare”; like it or not, you’re born with it and it will always be with you, no matter how thoroughly you fool others or fool yourself.

      • avatar
        Sam

        Transgender individuals should compete against other transgender individuals.

    • avatar
      Ms. Leonora

      “use the science to ensure we have fair competition”

      This is exactly the reason why there are segregated men’s and women’s sports.

  5. avatar
    KRW

    Totally agree. Will the NCAA have the guts to address this now? That’s the question. Switching genders mid eligibility is totally bogus and disingenuous. The mindset of someone actually celebrating victories over natural born females after competing for almost 2 decades as a natural born male is beyond narcissistic. It is sickening. My empathy lies with the natural born ladies being forced to compete against a natural born man.

  6. avatar
    Taylor

    As a journalist it would be more professional to omit bias towards one side or the other in any argument. Whatever the writer or the reader’s opinions are, the actual text should be neutral. Basic journalism professionalism

    • avatar
      John Lohn - Editor-in-Chief

      Actually, Taylor, journalism includes straight articles and something called columns, which take a stance. We have provided both on this topic. Your basic understanding of journalism is lacking.

    • avatar
      Mike

      Seriously? Its a shame you cant differentiate between “straight news” and opinion. You must be terribly confused by whichever “news” source you use these days.

    • avatar
      Dr. Aqua

      Taylor, I would also suggest you read a few editorial columns to get an idea that there exists something within journalism you are obviously unaware of.

  7. avatar
    Swimterp

    This entire discussion revolves around “Thomas’ transition from male to female.” Seriously? One year of a few pills and shots can turn a human from one gender into the other? How absurd. Perhaps in Will/Lia’s mind a gender change has taken place, and if Will chooses to now be called Lia, fine. But one year of some shots and pills do not erase twenty years of growth, development and athletic training as a male. The NCAA wants to appear “woke”, or “p.c.”, or whatever term you want to use, but allowing biological males to compete as females will eventually lead to the destruction and elimination of actual female sports teams.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      🙌🏼👏🏼🙏🏼

    • avatar
      Mike McIntyre

      Agreed. NCAA FINA and all the sports bodies need to end this madness. Biological males should not be permitted to compete as females after transition. If the sports bodies want to play the woke card then begin a competitions for transgenders only. Simple as that.

    • avatar
      JT Penn alum

      Please don’t deadname Lia – disrespect has no place in this discussion. And – according to all accounts, she’s two years into suppression therapies. You can be angry at the NCAA for their rules, but don’t take that out on someone who is following those rules.

      • avatar
        criticalthinker

        it’s a dude competing against women. no ifs ands or buts about it.

      • avatar
        JanieH

        Agreed. Lia’s situation is pointing out a problem, but she herself is not the problem—rather the NCAA rules are the issue. And those cannot be legally (or to my mind, ethically) changed mid-season.

      • avatar
        Tono

        No, JT Penn Alum, don’t try to intimidate anyone with this “deadnaming” cant. “Lia” Thomas is a man who is pretending to be a woman. I say, let him pretend all he wants, but he has no right to insist that we collaborate in his charade.

      • avatar
        Don Jones

        Someone can’t compete in male swimming and win, so “transitions” to women swimming so as to be able to win. Yes, I think that person should be held accountable for not playing (competing) fair.

      • avatar
        Mom

        Deadnaming isn’t a matter of disrespect. It is a matter of reality. Lea lived for twenty some years as a biological male named Will.

  8. avatar
    Timothy Morrison

    That’s exactly true.
    Inadvertent perhaps but doping in effect.

  9. avatar
    Timothy Morrison

    You have to get personality (Lia), and the politics of women’s sport enthusiasts OUT of it and stay vigilantly focused to the big picture of Fairness….endocronological…biological fairness.
    If you stick with an investigation with those as the parameters, the right answer will emerge.

  10. avatar
    Matt

    Create 2 divisions; transexual and biological women and men, then there will a level playing field for all athletes. Period.

    • avatar
      Abc

      Yes, this. Call the divisions “women’s” (for natural born women), and “Open” (for anyone else).

  11. avatar
    吳紹雍

    take that feminists lol

  12. avatar
    Robert S Carroll

    One of the fairest and most honest discussions of a difficult issue. And I agree that she (he) should not be competing against those born female; it’s just not fair.

    • avatar
      Anon

      Her pronouns are she/her.

      • avatar
        Carl

        But his DNA does not confirm that…

      • avatar
        criticalthinker

        biologically, he’s a he.

      • avatar
        Sid

        Pronouns, you had to go there. This person is a para-woman, just like para-professional, para-legal
        name only with permanent hyphen to indicate that it’s not the real thing. Sorry biology is so implacable. BTW using trans-sex is a straw man argument

        Are you disagreeing and thing that person competing is fair?

    • avatar
      SETH

      Life is not fair. Consider the burden she has carried by living in a body that was not her own until her transition. Competition is a life lesson, and we can all learn from letting her compete as her own person.

  13. avatar
    yes

    Thank you for standing up to protect women’s sports, as it seems MEN WHO PRETEND TO BE WOMEN are very trendy.

  14. avatar
    Jb

    This shouldn’t even be a discussion. This is just the result of liberals creating an environment where scientific facts are ignored. There is nothing fair about this and is further proof democrats only claim to care about women when it helps them maintain power. If they truly cared about women’s rights they would have never allowed this in the first place. JK Rowling is right and look what liberals did to her.

  15. avatar
    Cjj

    Thank you.

  16. avatar
    Observer

    Thank you for injecting common sense into the conversation around gender in competitive sports. In my own sport, I regularly competed against boys, since, at that time, few girls’ teams existed. The natural advantage conferred by growing up male was never in question.

    Were Lia Thomas’ body to be compared to that of the average woman on her team, I suspect that she would not only be taller, but her hip/waist measurement ratio would be lower (more aerodynamic), her shoulders would be wider, her arms would be longer, and her hands would be larger. All of those things would give her a permanent physical advantage that no amount of testosterone suppressant drugs or even more drastic measures could reverse. That she wishes to continue competing in the sport that she loves is understandable, but her denial of her very real advantage is tone deaf. It’s too bad that the NCAA didn’t have the courage to say no to one person to prevent her rights from overriding the rights of so many others who also have hopes and dreams.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Does Lia think she is being fair?? I don’t care about NCAA rules, doesn’t Lia think she is cheating??
      It is a shame that Lia is taking the place of female athletes who trained so hard to compete at the collegiate level. There are only so many spots available on the team.

      • avatar
        Sue Smith

        She has literally called herself the Next Jackie Robinson. Her teammates have spoken out anonymously that she brags about winning, ect. It seems she doesn’t care at all that she is winning with unfair advantages. I would also add lung development, as testosterone aids in the development of lungs abilities, this is also an advantage men have over women when competing in sports.

  17. avatar
    Clayton

    Thomas is a man, first off. There are women who have trained for years to reach the pinnacle of success. And now, because of someone’s misplaced feelings on what they are, those women will lose out. And they are losing out; just look at the past couple months of results Thomas, a man, is attaining. All the decades of fighting for women’s equality are going down the drain because UPenn and its putrid leadership won’t step up. Shameful.

  18. avatar
    Scott

    Kudos to the author for a fair and balanced article. Let her compete as an exhibition athlete and not eligible for awards and record setting. I’m sure her teammates would fully embrace and support her if she was not using her extreme biological advantage to displace the other competitors in the women’s division.

  19. avatar
    JAH

    Thank God that finally rational voices will be heard. The advantages are real and significant. Any notion otherwise, is simply knee jerk virtue signaling.
    Even with T suppression, the heght and development can not be rolled back.

  20. avatar
    JAH

    Thank God that finally rational voices will be heard. The advantages are real and significant. Any notion otherwise, is simply knee jerk virtue signaling.
    Even with T suppression, the heght and development can not be rolled back.

  21. avatar
    Zane

    Awful and disgusting article. Letting Thomas’ teammates and team parents slander her under the cover of anonymity is incredibly hurtful.

    • avatar
      Observer

      Anonymity is necessary because others who have spoken out have been cancelled or have received death threats from aggressive trans activists who seem to have no idea of what being a woman means or how those born female really feel about this. We women will not allow our rights to be trampled, we will not be silenced, and we will not be erased.

      Imagine how incredibly hurt Thomas’ teammates and female competitors are after realizing that the NCAA, and, for that matter, the IOC, have decided to look the other way with respect to her unfair advantage.

      Gender may be changeable, but biological sex is not. That is not just a belief, but a scientific fact.

    • avatar
      JB

      Slander? You obviously don’t know what that word means. Taking testosterone blockers doesn’t make you a woman. And if you believe that you clearly hate women. This decision by upenn is abusive towards women athletes. It makes women athletes obsolete. Why? Because all women will fail against men who like to wear dresses and game the system to play in women’s sports.

    • avatar
      J. R.

      Forcing his teammates to watch their dreams of success in fair competition shattered because a guy couldn’t compete with people of his own biological sex is infinitely more damaging.

    • avatar
      criticalthinker

      biologically, it’s a dude competing against women.

      • avatar
        Tono

        And not just “biologically”. This is a man, who will always be a man, regardless of what hormones, what mutilation, what delusions he inflicts on himself and on others.

    • avatar
      Veritas

      Slander is a false spoken statement so perhaps you mean libel or defamation? There is, generally speaking, a legal privilege for statements made on issue of public concern that would be a relatively good affirmative defense in a defamation lawsuit. Plus, truth is also a pretty good affirmative defense if you are stating indisputable facts like that Lia Thomas is taking a spot that would otherwise go to a woman that does not have a Y chromosome.

      And, lots of people use pseudonyms even if they do not face doxing and other problems from speaking out on this subject. A couple of the Founding Fathers used them when publishing the Federalist Papers for example.

    • avatar
      LP

      I don’t think you know the definition of slander.

  22. avatar
    SETH

    It’s sad that a straight white man with a literal bully pulpit is being an actual transphobic bully instead of using this unique situation to inform, enlighten, and most of all put the person before the sport. I am ashamed to be part of the American swimming culture if this is what it stands for.

    • avatar
      Bonnie

      Title XI was created to ensure that females have equal opportunity and fair play. If trans (male to female) athletes are allowed to compete as women on a large scale, do you think recruiters will sign biological females or bigger, stronger and faster transgenders (male to female)? How is this equal access?

      I also see this as part of a larger picture: Womens’ Rights. I am old enough to remember what it was like to not be able to participate in organized sports. Organized competition for females did not widely exist. A woman’s right to choose has been eliminated in Texas. We still have not had a female president. Women got the right to vote in 1920; Blacks (most of whom had previously been enslaved) got the vote in 1870. I could go on and on about the oppression of women. We simply cannot tolerate going backwards.

      • avatar
        Observer

        I think you mean Title IX, but I agree that coaches who want to win could be tempted to recruit trans women.

        What is ironic about the rollback of laws discriminating against women is that it started with a case (Moritz v. Commissioner) in which Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then just a lawyer, argued against a tax law that discriminated against MALE caregivers. That case, brought on behalf of a male plaintiff, became a precedent for laws discriminating on the basis of sex, most of which were unfair to women. I wonder where we would be today had a female victim, rather than a male victim, been at the center of that case.

      • avatar
        Liefer Travers

        RE: Blacks (most of whom had previously been enslaved) got the vote in 1870. I could go on and on about the oppression of women. We simply cannot tolerate going backwards.

        You do realize black women exist, right????

      • avatar
        Susie Smith

        I agree with you. As a woman in a male dominated field, engineering, I get so tired of being b**ched at about how I don’t understand discrimination. Umm, excuse me. Like I went to a women in STEM conference and got b**ched out because I was being insensitive to the trans women hen I referred to myself as a woman. I was told that I had to refer to myself as someone who identifies as a woman, why? So, some people won’t be upset. Ok, seriously, us women had to work our buts off to create spaces where we can support each other, I really don’t want someone coming into my space telling me what I have to call myself. Like, if someone wants to refer to themselves as that, go ahead, but they don’t get to tell me what to do. This is a space for women by women, if trans woman want their space, they have every right to create it, but do not come into a space us ladies created to support each other and tell us what we have to do, then complain how we don’t understand being discriminated against. Like, you want to be a woman, maybe spend some time understanding what women have had to fight for to get here. Stop acting like these things were just given to us, cause they were not. I think the same can be said for Athletics or many other issues. Know yr history before you start complaining about how others don’t understand discrimination, because that is very insulting to the women and men who had to fight for where we are now. I get trans people had to fight to, but it’s like it doesn’t seem to matter that women had to fight long and hard for voting rights, for education rights, for just about everything. I can go on about this for a while, but I will say good buy for now.

    • avatar
      Erika Thompson

      The fact that you discount the author for being white really says all that needs to be known about you, Seth.

      Racism is never a good look.

      Also, I wish people wouldn’t refer to William as ‘she.’ It’s as delusional as his attempt to swim in women’s races.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        Thanks for judging me on my use of adjectives. I didn’t discount the author, I simply described him so as to put my opinion and words in context.

        Your sentiments regarding my use of a specific word speak volumes.

    • avatar
      J. R.

      Interesting take, Seth. Putting the person before the sport that is. What you probably aren’t really considering is that the sport IS people. And it’s about a ton more people than one guy who can’t compete with his own biological sex deciding to transition and removing any hope of true competition.

    • avatar
      Tono

      To SETH: “Transphobic” is a term of abuse employed by people whose arguments are obviously weak. No one is phobic here. Mr. Lohn simply is honest enough to point out that “Lia” Thomas is not a woman. Why must you resort to a psychosmear? Maybe Thomas wishes he were a woman; maybe he actually believes he is a woman. But that imposes no obligation on the rest of us to go along with his delusion.

      • avatar
        Veritas

        He probably thinks that 2 + 2 can equal 3, 4 or 5 depending on what his politics require at the moment.

  23. avatar
    P

    Perhaps athletes should begin boycotting races where trans athletes are allowed to switch genders.

    • avatar
      E.E.

      They shouldn’t have to boycott races they earned the right to be in. College athletes in sports have an expiration date, they don’t get do-overs. They dreamed and worked their whole Iives for this .
      Covid had already ruined a few years of many current athletes college careers. It’s not fair to cis female athletes, they would get screwed either way. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
      Special Olympic athletes have their own categories for competition, separate from non disabled athletes. They even have subcategories to try and make disabilities more even.
      Why can’t all the athletes compete against each-other in the NCAA to get the full competitive feeling, and let the computer seperate them into categories such as :
      Cis female, transgender female, etc?
      Awards given for each category?
      This solves the issue when people say there isn’t enough competition within the trans athletic community. It’s just like breaking the State meets into the 13-14, 15-16,17-18, and 18-up categories, and make vs female categories
      Anyone in swimming knows that up to age 11-12 female swim times are faster than males…. Then males & females hit puberty, the time standards flip.
      It’s because testosterone makes males stronger , bigger & faster. Duh!

      Additionally, I’m close with numerous transgender females with my business. Every one of them has told me that only taking testosterone suppression for one or two years of isn’t enough to weaken their muscles. They all said that the addition of estrogen is what led to their muscle weakness.
      Doesn’t that make it crystal clear that this is 100 percent wrong and proves that estrogen makes people not as strong….. hence the cis females competing against Lia, or cis females who broke records before Lia.
      Why wasn’t the science done prior to this catastrophic rule being made? Shame on you NCAA

  24. avatar
    PW

    Perhaps athletes should begin boycotting races where trans athletes are allowed to switch genders. If they feel strongly enough about the issue.

    It’s pretty simple:
    Doping is illegal in sports. Hormone suppression is doping, so it should disqualify anyone who does it.

  25. avatar
    Abc

    Yes, this. Call the divisions “women’s” (for natural born women), and “Open” (for anyone else).

    • avatar
      XYZ

      I have swum in high-level masters before transition (ranked as high as #2 in Nation as guy—and then AFTER surgery and 7 years of estrogen therapy as a woman (only reached as high as 3rd and 5th in USMS Women’s Top Ten). Seems fair. Had I raced a year after transition, as Lia is doing, I would have had an unfair advantage. For me, I swam at Jr. Nat levels as a 17-18 year old guy, but even as a 41 year old female, I might have made Senior Nat cuts had I tried right after transition (which I never made as a male). That says it all. I believe there needs to be a 2 to 3 year minimum wait period, with rigorous testing. That would possibly help. They should also require surgery to compete (my opinion), but I know that ship has sailed.

      I applaud Lia for being her true self and having the desire to compete (and study) at an extremely high level. I also believe she has be right to finish this year out in the pool; the NCAA should have had this figured out. They shouldn’t “pull the carpet out from under Lia at this point.”

      • avatar
        Observer

        FWIW, I don’t think the NCAA will pull the carpet out from under her, but she will likely improve her times to the extent that she will participate in some very high-level competition, thus gaining a good deal of unwelcome negative attention from the vast majority of the public, who, having noted her obvious advantage, will not regard her as a true champion. She does seem to have a very thick skin, however, so perhaps that will not matter to her.

        Not sure that the trans community realizes how far most of us have had to go to humor trans people in their belief that their sex is actually the opposite of what is apparent to us. As a polite person, I am more than willing to continue this suspension of disbelief in order to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, but when trans women’s rights supersede hard-won natural women’s rights, a line is crossed.

        The UK fairness authority recently ruled that expressing the belief that trans women aren’t women or trans men aren’t men cannot be a basis for negative treatment such as employment termination, because people cannot be forced to profess a view that they do not hold. Here in the US, openly LGBTQ persons have won extraordinary protections with respect to hiring and employment, since the Supreme Court recently ruled that negative action against any such persons is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex. That level of protection is higher than those afforded to natural women, natural men, racial/ethnic minorities, and those discriminated against on the basis of age or disabilities, btw, so it would appear that US employers are expected to bend over backward to accommodate the beliefs of trans employees.

      • avatar
        criticalthinker

        you messed with your own hormones.

        any loss in abilities is your own fault.

  26. avatar
    Veritas

    The analogy to doping is apt for two reasons. The first is because athletic competition is now not fair. Whoever Lia Thomas beats this year and whoever’s records Lia Thomas breaks this year are victims of unfair competition. The second is that there are a lot more victims here than the women and girls that lose races and records.

    The group of women deprived of medals, records and glory were not the greatest victims of Communist doping regimes. The biggest victims were the ones that were doped. Thanks to Swimming World Magazine, among others, we have learned about their some of their health problems, which has included cancers, premature deaths, miscarriages and birth defects in their children. We still don’t know much about how the Chinese victims of doping have suffered. We might never learn much because of how good the Chi-Coms are at suppressing criticism of their actions.

    I suspect in years to come we might come to conclude that the real victims here are those being treated for gender dysphoria by treatments that sterilize them, mutilate their bodies and give them some of the same cancer causing drugs the Communists gave their women athletes. Some kids are being sterilized in their teens, sometimes without parental consent or even knowledge. I have posted repeatedly on this topic on this site because of my sympathy toward Lia Thomas and everyone else’s in Lia’s condition and concerns about the way doctors are treating them. IMHO, whenever Swimming World Magazine has sent one of my posts down the memory hole, it was covering up what is happening to poor human beings like Lia Thomas just like the IOC covered up the Communist doping schemes and Walter Duranty and the New York Times covered up the Holodomor.

    But, there is an even greater consequence from allow Lia Thomas and other transgendered women to compete against women, and that is the harm to society at large. One of the obvious aspects is the harm to education institutions. This article reports that Penn swimmers and parents have complained anonymously. This is because college students have been punished for disagreeing with transgendered ideology. In addition to facing the wrath of speech code enforcers on their campuses, Ivy League students would lose job opportunities and would be denied admission to graduate or professional schools if they expressed their dissent with Lia Thomas competing against women. This is why most of them have kept quiet even though there are reports that most are outraged.

    Universities are supposed to be places where dissenting viewpoints are encouraged. Established positions are sometimes wrong, and challenging an established position is the only way to find out if that position is correct. For example, Einstein initially added a cosmological constant to his equations describing relativity. But, new data collected and published by another scientist proved him wrong. So, his mistake was corrected. But, here the corruption of Penn and other universities by repeating the transgendered lie means that there will be no dissent on this issue. Conditioning students not to challenge the established orthodoxy, even when that orthodoxy is not based on lies, destroys progress and is simply a path to another dark age.

    Let’s consider what has happened to the ACLU. For a century, the ACLU performed the vital role of defending free expression, most famously by representing a group of Neo-Nazis that wanted to march in a town filled with Holocaust survivors. There is nothing that can be said to the transgendered community that would be remotely as emotionally distressing as Holocaust survivors seeing Neo-Nazis marching. But, the ACLU represented the Neo-Nazis, and society as a whole benefits from everyone speaking out and debating everything as we can try to struggle forward toward the truth. But, now, the ACLU has been working overtime to suppress the publication of Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shirer because her book says double ungood things. It’s bad for society that an organization like the ACLU will no longer support the pursuant of truth, but has instead joined the book burners.

    So, now, universities punish students for telling the truth, formerly liberal organizations try to suppress the truth and employees won’t hire people that tell the truth. That kind of society cannot move forward and ultimately won’t survive.

  27. avatar
    Carl

    We place competitors into categories ALL THE TIME. Should 10 year olds compete with 20 year olds? Should fly weight boxers compete with heavyweights? Maybe I should “identify” as a challenged athlete and compete in the Paralympic Games?!

    This situation is ridiculous and I saw it coming years ago. Although Lia Thomas happens to be playing by the rules. The rules are WRONG.

    Unless the rules are changed, men will dominate every women’s sport and there will be no such thing as a successful female athlete.

  28. avatar
    Swimmer

    Lia is a man, everybody knows it and everybody can see it, including himself. Of course she can socially transition and live in her chosen gender, but sports should be strictly segregated by sex and body reality, not by perceived identities and internal feelings.

    Her competing in the female category is ludicrous and preposterous, and sends a terrible message to actual women who love swimming and want to
    compete fairly: that the feelings of a man will always trump their hard-earned rights, and that they need to suck it up or be ostracised.
    That is not fairness or inclusion, it’s horrendous misogyny.

  29. avatar
    Dave Bartlett

    Excellent piece John – thank you. A common side effect of the doping and the Lia Thomas controversy is the suppression of voices that disagree. Women that spoke up about doping were labeled ‘sore losers’ and I’m sure it is the same at Penn. Others say this is equality, that is just doublespeak, there is no equality here. If she wanted to complete ‘equally’ she would be entered on the men’s team, wear a woman’s suit and use the women’s locker room.

    • avatar
      Mom

      No. He shouldn’t use a women’s locker room. He should come to practice in her suit, just like my daughter does because the changing rooms were shut down because of covid.

  30. avatar
    Concerned

    Thomas’s teammates have been seen crying as Thomas brags about being the best. The standards set by the NCAA are clearly wrong. It is just shameful that they are allowing this to go on. If they are going to allow trans people on the team then maybe they should allow biological females to juice… It looks like that is the only way women are going to be able to level the playing field. And I think that’s really telling too, that the only way biological females can win is with enhancement performing drugs.

  31. avatar
    Concerned Parent

    Thank you John for speaking out on the biological boy competing as a woman at U Penn.
    When discussing biological boys competing in girls sports, why doesn’t anyone talk about a girls menstrual cycle and how it can negatively impact their performance? Biological Boys who transition have an unfair advantage because they do not have a uterus that sheds every month and the bleeding/cramping that comes with it. In a recent study, more than half of elite female athletes reported that hormonal fluctuations during their menstrual cycle negatively affected their exercise training and performance capacity. Biological Boys don’t experience this and therefore have an unfair competitive advantage. I have a daughter that swims competitively in High School. Once a month for about 3-4 days during the swim season, she is upstairs in her bedroom with a heating pad on her body from the intense cramping and bleeding she is experiencing. I would cringe when a swim meet happened around this time knowing she would not be at her best when performing. A Biological boy would never experience this and would therefore have an unfair advantage. SO WHY ISNT ANYONE TALKING ABOUT THIS???????

  32. avatar
    MarinaZ

    Women need to refuse to compete against this person. Teammates don’t have much choice but other swimmers should take the knee.
    Why have we not seen a full frontal photo of Thomas in a swimsuit?

  33. avatar
    Thomas Chew

    I remember reading in the 1960s about a skier who was banned because she had a Y chromosome although she was phenotypically male. I don’t remember if the article mentioned her actual genotype. When I first read about Lia Thomas it surprised me that she was able to compete as a woman. In a recent record performance she started that she’s was “cruising” so I don’t doubt that at least a few NCAA records are on her radar.
    As a current masters swimmer, former AAU swimmer, and former Age Group & Community College Swim Coach, I don’t understand how she could feel any pride by winning races in this arena.

  34. avatar
    Dr. Aqua

    Mr. Lohn, Thank you for having the courage to write this column. And for having the tact to affirm Lia Thomas’ gender with the use of her pronouns, while tactfully challenging the “elephant in the room.” I would like to know if it is even plausible for NCAA to act in time. I think it is unlikely, but I also think it might be nearly implausible with the time remaining.

    My Suggestion: The current female athletes need to bring immediate suit against NCAA under Title IX, Equal Protection, and 14th Amendment. Title IX expressly protects against discrimination based upon sex (not gender). It was the Obama Administration and the US Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit that expanded the interpretation of sex to include gender and transgender. However, this needs to be challenged and go to SCOTUS seeking immediate injunctive relief.

    In the end, NCAA should create transgender categories for athletes or else it is not equitable for biological women.

    • avatar
      Mom

      If it is so important to challenge the “elephant in the room”, why does only this aspect of transgenderism matter? Do we want our daughters changing in front of biological men? Single sex spaces as well as races matter.
      And you lose all justification for either one if you refer to Lea as a she.

  35. avatar
    Tono

    I don’t know why it should take courage to state the obvious, but evidently it does, and therefore I salute John Lohn.

  36. avatar
    Alan

    Thank you for taking a stand against this lunacy!

  37. avatar
    Isaac Edery

    Some of these issues date back to what went wrong with the feminist movement in the 60’s that try to blur any lines between sexes as a means of enhancing woman’s rights. Unfortunately, hard-core feminist women made it seem that the only way to be really liberated was to do all the things men could do, or did. Just think, before 1984 there was no woman’s marathon in the Olympics. I have never heard of a movement for men to have the beam event in gymnastics. The point is, women have been trapped by men and hard-core feminist to think that being more like a man somehow elevates woman. It’s not hard to see why a trans-woman swimmer is celebrated by the same folks. Yup, women can swim just as fast as men, so there!

  38. avatar
    Mark

    Nice I love it hey women in sports don’t be upset you liberal women are the ones who wanted this you’re the ones who keep voting Democrat and you’re the colleges are the ones that keep going woke so now you’re going to be upset that a transgender is dominating the swimming and transgender is dominating everything good go transgender I hope all you liberal women are praying all of you suffer you’re the ones that wanted this s*** now you got it now you don’t like it good go Joe Biden and keep killing America go woke liberals keep killing your schools and all your women’s sports you deserve it you got what you asked for now live with it you dumb b******

  39. avatar
    Raul

    The disadvantage to biological women is enormous and this is just the beginning of a multitude of applications that may be filed in the coming months. National organizations, FINA and the IOC must react soon and with guarantees for biological women. Transgender people have the right to participate, but it must be in a different category, without advantages … the something very complex that needs a very deep analysis before

  40. avatar
    Lynette Washburn

    Thank you Swimming World! As a female competitive swimmer I agree with your article 100 %.

  41. avatar
    Mike Bott

    Thank you for taking a stance against this. I can’t believe that Penn would allow for this… removes all credibility of the sport.

  42. avatar
    swimmerz

    which locker room does lia use?

    • avatar
      Joe

      The one where swimmers change into swimwear.

  43. avatar
    Bill Oetjen

    Lia the Liar.
    He/Him/His.
    No amount of makeup, wishful thinking, or extreme medical intervention can change someone’s sex.
    Any Women’s team, league, or sport becomes mixed-sex the moment a man forces himself into it.

  44. avatar
    Jane

    He’s a man – an adult human male. Please stop referring to him as ‘she’; it’s an insult to all women everywhere. Women are their own separate entity – we are human – not some idea in a man’s head.

    • avatar
      Winter

      Amen. Why don’t people understand and respect biology?

  45. avatar
    AC

    You’re my hero, Mr. Lohn! Women’s sports are over if people don’t wake up to this.

  46. avatar
    Winter

    Biology is Biology. Identify as you want, your DNA remains the same and male DNA is designed to be faster in swimming than a female’s . I have a 12 year old daughter who is a competitive swimmer…what is this teaching her and other ladies with big dreams and goals to achieve success as an elite swimmer in the USA? So much for Title IV. I am beside myself that USA swimming has a position statement of “inclusiveness” that essentially is agreeable to this. It has made a joke of the sport.

  47. avatar
    Anonymous

    Forget rule changes, regulations, legal actions. The immediate way to stop this madness is to quickly form a female swimmers “me too” movement. All, repeat, all, female swimmers in any race, anywhere, with him should simply sit down on their blocks when the starting horn goes off. The resulting publicity and pressure put on the NCAA would bring this to an expedient resolution.

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