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A transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania has sparked huge backlash on social media after she smashed women’s records at the school.
Lia Thomas, who was born a man and was formally known as Will Thomas, had previously competed as a male swimmer at UPenn.
The 22-year-old has taken part in several different events, one of which included a tri-meet with Cornell University and Princeton University on 20th November.
And Thomas managed to post an impressive 1:43:47 time in the 200-metre freestyle and 4:35:06 in the 500-metre freestyle.
According to OutKick, the aforementioned times were recognised as new records for the University of Pennsylvania.
Thomas’ 200-metre and 500-metre freestyle times would also be ranked second and third respectively in the NCAA Women’s Championships.
According to reports, it remains unclear when Thomas made her transition from male to female.
However, The Daily Mail reports that Thomas’ last outing as a male swimmer came back on 16th November 2019.
NCAA’s rules reveal that Thomas would need to complete a minimum of one year of testosterone suppression treatment to be eligible to compete as a woman.
Thomas, who is the co-chair of UPenn club Non-Cis, has insisted that being transgender has “not affected my ability to do this sport.”
The UPenn senior told Penn Today in June: “[Swimming] is a huge part of my life and who I am. I’ve been a swimmer since I was 5 years old.
“The process of coming out as being trans and continuing to swim was a lot of uncertainty and unknown around an area that’s usually really solid.
“Realizing [sic] I was trans threw that into question. Was I going to keep swimming? What did that look like?
“Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.”
Thomas’ involvement in the event and breaking records sparked backlash online amid the debate surrounding transgender women competing in women’s sports.
Linda Blade, who is a sports performance coach, took to Twitter and slammed the trans swimmer’s involvement in women’s sports.
She tweeted: “Well of course women's records are being smashed! Lia competed as male for first three years in #NCAA. This is not right!”
Well of course women’s records are being smashed! https://t.co/tMBrgCLkXX— Linda Blade (@coachblade) November 30, 2021
Lia competed as male for first three years in #NCAA.
This is not right!
We need to return to #SexBasedSports!
#SexNotGender to preserve fairness for female athletes. pic.twitter.com/AcDvx7MTIB
Thomas’ participation has been met with further backlash on social media.
'Penn’s Lia Thomas blasted the number one 200 free time and the second-fastest 500 free time in the nation on Saturday, breaking Penn program records in both events.'— Cathy Devine (@cathydevine56) November 30, 2021
No suprise there. https://t.co/aDUkRweOHX
Here we go again: having to explain that, in fact, natal male athletes who transition to present as women do have an advantage over natal female athletes. Thank you, @FondOfBeetles , for the analysis of Lia Thomas’ times. https://t.co/PvjLBqUIyJ— Cindalou422 (@Cindalou4221) December 1, 2021
Lia Thomas, a 22-year old trans-identified swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, has been shattering women’s records at the school.— Women's Voices (@WomenReadWomen) December 3, 2021
Thomas previously competed for three years at U Penn as a man named Will Thomas.#SaveWomensSports https://t.co/tMPFZ3E8CW https://t.co/EIaqS41Q5o
This is a 200 yard freestyle analysis of Lia Thomas, a transgender woman and US college swimmer. Lia began transition last (Covid-cancelled) season, having competed in male competition for the three previous years. pic.twitter.com/4jzpRs573V— Emma Hilton (@FondOfBeetles) December 1, 2021
Nine states in the US, including the likes of Texas and Florida, have decided to ban trans athletes from competing in female sports at schools.
Trans MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin, who has been no stranger to controversy, slammed US politicians who have used trans kids as a “scapegoat.”
The 2020 Summer Olympics was marred in controversy after New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard took part in the women’s +87kg super-heavyweight category.
Featured Image Credit: Penn Athletics
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