University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ winning streak was broken Jan. 8 by a Yale competitor who, ironically, also identifies as transgender.
Thomas, a biological male, has been shattering records in women’s swimming ever since he was allowed to switch from the men’s team to the women’s team under NCAA rules, which state that a “trans woman” can compete in women’s collegiate events if he has undergone testosterone suppression treatment for a year. In a Dec. 9 interview with SwimSwam, Thomas said that he has been on hormone treatments for nearly two and a half years.
In Penn’s last home meet of the season, however, Thomas won the 200-meter and 500-meter races but finished sixth in the 100 meters. Among those who defeated Thomas was Yale’s Iszac Henig, a biological female swimmer who is in the process of taking on a male identity.
Henig, who has had a mastectomy, is still eligible to compete on the women’s team because she has not yet begun hormone therapy, according to the NCAA.
“I could start hormones to align more with myself, or wait, transition socially, and keep competing on a women’s swim team,” Henig told The New York Times in June. “… I value my contributions to the team and recognize that my boyhood doesn’t hinge on whether there’s more or less testosterone running through my veins.”
The controversy around transgender athletes is not new, but Thomas’ participation on Penn’s women’s swim team has garnered much media attention.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins encourages Christians to join the debate.
“For anyone worried about the blowback for speaking up in this toxic environment, know this: There’s a groundswell of support for protecting the genders as God created them.”
One of those weighing in is Christian athlete Erika Brown, who is a two-time Olympic medalist in swimming.
“I want to share something that’s been on my heart regarding what is going on in USA Swimming at the moment,” she wrote in an Instagram story, according to SwimSwam.com. “I believe that … we are called to love one another. I don’t want to create any hate, only speak up for what is right.
“We cannot allow transgender females to compete against biological women. A biological male goes through male puberty. Even when [he] has transitioned, [he] still has the physiology of a male. A few years of testosterone blockers and estrogen doesn’t change the fact that [he] will have more powerful muscles, a larger heart and greater lung capacity than a biological woman.
“It’s time to start standing up for women’s sports before we lose what so many before us have fought for,” Brown concluded.
Above: Lia Thomas competes in the 1000-yard freestyle on Jan. 8 at Sheerr Pool in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo: Sipa USA/Alamy Live News