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Lia Thomas says transgender athletes 'do not threaten' women's sport.
The trans NCAA swimming champion has made countless headlines over the past year after she shattered a number of female collegiate records in the pool.
Thomas herself has faced backlash with people calling her success unfair, while others have heaped praise for driving inclusivity.
It's clear people are still pretty split on the topic with Thomas seemingly taking a backseat during competition time while the heated debate unfolds around her – until now, it seems.
The UPenn swimming star has broken her silence, attempting to dismantle the argument that her involvement is negatively affecting women's sport in the long run.
EXCLUSIVE: "Trans people don't transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves."— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 31, 2022
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas speaks out to @JujuChangABC about backlash and future plans to compete. https://t.co/UFQOgMNBLj pic.twitter.com/FJcmyEChi9
“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole,” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN.
“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.”
Thomas' story first gained traction when people became aware that the NCAA chose not to adopt USA Swimming’s strict policies surrounding trans competitors.
The rules state that hormone therapy must be undertaken for three years before a trans athlete is eligible.
It's understood Thomas was two-and-a-half years into her treatment, yet the NCAA still allowed to complete – a move which has since been met with uproar from fellow swimmers and their parents.
As a result, many theories have surfaced as to why Thomas wanted to transition int he first place and subsequently compete against women.
“The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned,” Thomas added.
“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.”
She added: “Having seen such hateful attacks on trans rights through legislation, fighting for trans rights and trans equality is something that I’ve become much more passionate about and want to pursue.”
In an interview with @katie_barnes3, Lia Thomas responded to those who say transgender women threaten women's sports.— ESPN (@espn) May 31, 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." pic.twitter.com/w7bj1KVtL7
The continued discussion among sports fans seems to have trickled its way into government with a number of politicians across varying U.S. states now introducing bills restricting trans participation in sport.
Former Olympian Sebastian Coe, who is now the World Athletics president, has been one of the high-profile sporting figures to express his concerns, claiming the “integrity and future of women’s sport” is ultimately at stake.
“There is no question to me that testosterone is the key determinant in performance,” Coe told the Daily Telegraph back in March.
“If you look at the nature of 12 or 13-year-old girls, I remember my daughters would regularly outrun male counterparts in their class, but as soon as puberty kicks in that gap opens and it remains.
“Gender cannot trump biology. As a federation president, I do not have that luxury. It is a luxury that other organisations not at the practical end of having to deal with these issues have. But as far as I am concerned, the scientific evidence, the peer-reviewed work we have done, those regulations are the right approach.”
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