Transgender swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania, Lia Thomas, told ABC News that trans women do not threaten women’s sports despite scientific studies suggesting otherwise, and mentioned going to the Olympics as a future goal.
Speaking to ABC’s Juju Chang on Tuesday, Thomas said transitioning was a matter of being happy.
“There’s a lot of factors that go into a race and how well you do and the biggest change for me is I’m happy,” Thomas said. “And sophomore year, when I had my best times competing with the men, I was miserable. Having that be lifted is incredibly relieving and allows me to put my all into training into racing, trans people don’t transition for athletics.”
Penn’s transgender swimmer has spoken. Despite having a clear competitive advantage swimming against women, claims there is no competitive advantage. pic.twitter.com/eCctV1RGH4
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 31, 2022
Thomas said “the biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned.”
“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.”
Thomas then claimed trans women don’t threaten women’s sports.
“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole,” Thomas said. “Trans women are a very small minority of all athletes. The NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for 10-plus years. And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating.”
“It’s not different than a cis woman taking a spot on a travel team or a scholarship. It’s part of athletics, where people are competing against each other. It’s not taking away opportunities from cis women, really. Trans women are women, so it’s still a woman who is getting that scholarship or that opportunity.” (RELATED: Georgia State Sports Board: Student Athletes Must Participate In Sports Based On Birth Certificate Sex)
Thomas was criticized by a Virginia Tech swimmer who was unable to compete in the finals of the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships and said the rules unfairly let Thomas compete against her and other biological females.
“I’d like to point out that I respect and fully stand with Lia Thomas; I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice,” Reka Gyorgy wrote in March. “She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right.”
“On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women,” she continued. “Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet.”
Thomas said swimming in the Olympics has “been a goal of mine…for a very long time, and I would love to see that through,” according to Fox News.
Thomas, a biological male, competed on the men’s team for three years before transitioning and joining the women’s team. Thomas’ rank went from 462 nationally in men’s swimming to first in women’s, teammates wrote in an anonymous letter to the university.
Despite insistence from Thomas that trans women do not pose a threat to other female athletes, research suggests transgender women have an athletic advantage over biological women one year after hormone therapy, according to a study conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.