Controversial Transgender Swimmer, Lia Thomas, Faces Setback in Olympic Dreams

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 06/13/2024
Lia Thomas, a controversial transgender swimmer, lost a judicial fight in which she claimed the regulations preventing her from competing were "invalid and unlawful," so she would not compete in the forthcoming Paris Olympics.

After racing for three years as a guy on the University of Pennsylvania swim team, Thomas, now 25 years old, underwent hormone treatment to transition to a girl. She crushed the field of biological women to become the first openly transgender person to win an NCAA Division I championship in 2022.

Her rise triggered a passionate national discussion over whether it was appropriate for athletes who identify as male yet have undergone gender identity transformation to play in female sports leagues.

According to The Guardian, Thomas filed a lawsuit against World Aquatics (WA), the global organization that oversees water sports, including swimming, in an attempt to reverse a 2022 rule that forbade athletes who had experienced “any part of male puberty” from participating in the female division.

A 24-page ruling stated that Thomas was "simply not entitled to engage with eligibility to compete in WA competitions." The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), an international body with its headquarters in Switzerland that settles disputes arising within the world of elite athletics, decided the case.

World Aquatics hailed the decision as "a major step forward in our efforts to protect women's sport" in a statement.

"Dedicated to fostering an environment that promotes fairness, respect, and equal opportunities for athletes of all genders, and we reaffirm this pledge," the governing body said.

Thomas won the NCAA championship in the women's 500-yard freestyle event with ease, defeating Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant by 1.75 seconds. This led to the introduction of World Aquatics' policy.

The Guardian said that World Aquatics created a new "open" category for transgender swimmers in an effort to incorporate as many competitors as possible. This category was supposed to make its debut at an event in Berlin last October.

However, as no one registered to compete, the category was abandoned.


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