i24NEWS: Backlash over trans swimmer breaking school records

i24NEWS

3 min read
Swimmers compete at the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships at Georgia Institute of Technology in Georgia, United States, on March 19, 2016.
AP Photo/David GoldmanSwimmers compete at the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships at Georgia Institute of Technology in Georgia, United States, on March 19, 2016.

'Transgender women aren’t men. Hormone therapy changes many secondary sex characteristics including strength'

Controversy over whether trans women should be able to compete against cis-female athletes erupted after 22-year-old Lia Thomas smashed two records at her school.

Those who voiced their opinions against Thomas included some of her own teammates.

Thomas, a swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, competed for three years as a male before her transition, the New York Post reported.

After adding to her list of broken records this past weekend, an anonymous teammate of hers spoke out, claiming that most of the team members expressed displeasure over the situation.

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“Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this. Our coach just really likes winning… I think secretly everyone just knows it's the wrong thing to do,” the teammate said.

Joanna Harper, a visiting fellow for transgender athletic performance at Loughborough University in England, told i24NEWS that Thomas is “entitled to compete in sports.”

“Men are noticeably physically stronger than women. However, transgender women aren’t men. Hormone therapy changes many secondary sex characteristics including strength."

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Some are arguing that it is unfair for Thomas to compete against cis-female swimmers, despite strict NCAA regulations that any woman who transitions from a man must complete at least one year of testosterone-suppressant therapy, which she did.

Harper described the three leading approaches to transgender people in sports: World Rugby banned trans women from international competition, the International Olympic Committee assumes trans women hold no advantage, therefore, places no restrictions, and World Athletics requires women to lower their testosterone below a certain value.

“Trans women are still massively under-represented in sports,” Harper noted, adding that "trans women won’t be taking over sports in the NCAA or anywhere else anytime soon.”