UPenn Trans Swimmer Lia Thomas Wins Two Races Against Harvard After NCAA Updates Rules

(Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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University of Pennsylvania male-to-female trans swimmer Lia Thomas won the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle races against Harvard on Saturday, days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) updated their policies for transgender participation, Fox News reported.

Thomas completed the 100m race in 50.55 seconds with a second-place competitor coming in at 51.51 seconds. She also won the 200m race in 1.47.08, with the second place swimmer finishing at 1.48.44. Her wins mirror those in previous races, such as the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio, where her teammate came in second place within a second of Thomas’ time, Fox News reported.

In early January, Thomas lost twice to female-to-male trans opponent Iszac Henig at a swim meet between Penn and Henig’s Yale team. Henig finished roughly three seconds before Thomas in the 100-yard freestyle and a little over one second before Thomas in the 400-yard freestyle. (RELATED: Trans Students Shatter’s Women’s Records After Switching From Men’s Team)

The NCAA Board of Governors voted Wednesday to support a sport-by-sport approach to transgender participation to “preserve the opportunity for transgender student-athletes.” Under the new policies, transgender student-athletes have to document their sport-specific testosterone levels for four weeks prior to championship selections.

Thomas originally swam for UPenn’s men’s team for the three years prior to transitioning. The new NCAA policies ensured that there was nothing that would “preclude Lia from racing in March at the NCAA Championships,” according to statements made by Braden Keith, editor-in-chief of SwimSwam, to Fox News.

Both UPenn and the Ivy League have offered their support to Thomas and her participation in the sport, according to Fox News. However, one USA Swimming official resigned from her three-decade-held position over the controversy, stating, “I told my fellow officials that I can no longer participate in a sport which allows biological men to compete against women. Everything fair about swimming is being destroyed.”

Parents of swimmers, former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, and Caitlyn Jenner have voiced their concern about the threat transgender athletes pose to fairness in women’s sports.