Should Transgender Penn Swimmer Lia Thomas Be Allowed to Compete in Women's Events?
Summary from AllSides News Team
A transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania is breaking records and spurring debate about trans athletes across the political spectrum.
After competing for the UPenn men’s swimming team for three seasons and undergoing over two years of hormone replacement therapy as part of her transition from male to female, swimmer Lia Thomas joined the school's women's team this year. She has posted the top times of any female college swimmer in two different events this season, and broke the UPenn women's program record for fastest 200-meter and 500-meter freestyle times. Some of Thomas's teammates and competitors have voiced support for her right to compete as a woman; other voices in the sport, including 16 anonymous Penn women's swimmers, have supported her right to identify as trans while arguing that "biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category." Thomas has said that being trans "has not affected my ability to do this sport."
Many right-rated voices cite Thomas and her success in women's collegiate swimming as the latest in a series of examples of transgender athletes creating an uneven playing field for cisgender competitors, and framed Thomas's career in men's swimming as unsuccessful. Opinions from left-rated voices typically placed less emphasis on Thomas breaking records, tended to frame her male career as more fruitful, and highlighted the debate about trans athletes in the context of the LGBTQ+ community's growing push for acceptance and equity.
Featured Coverage of this Story
From the LeftAs Lia Thomas Swims, Debate About Transgender Athletes Swirls
BOSTON — As Samantha Shelton, an accomplished Harvard swimmer, churned through the water in the 100-yard women’s freestyle on Saturday afternoon, the University of Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas seemed content to sit on her hip in the adjacent lane.
Shelton chugged ahead from the start, plowing through the water and carrying the lead. But as she did, Thomas cruised along beside her, seeming as unhurried as if on a training swim. Thomas’s broad shoulders and long arms, hallmark features of an elite swimmer, mimicked a windmill with the ease in which...
From the CenterMichael Phelps calls Lia Thomas controversy 'complicated'; highlights need for 'level playing field'
U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the University of Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas, calling the transgender swimmer’s recent success “complicated.”
“I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour late last week.
Phelps added that he’s unsure what an “even playing field” should look like.
“It’s very complicated,” he said.
From the RightIvy League trans athletes are unfairly gaming the system
It’s all going swimmingly in Ivy League women’s watersports. In a shock result at last week’s meet at the University of Pennsylvania, Lia Thomas, of the home team, who has transitioned from male to female, lost the 100- and 400-yard freestyle events to Yale’s Iszac Henig, who is transitioning from female to male.
Are they gaming the system?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association sets the rules for college sports. Its guidelines, written in 2010, don’t demand that trans athletes put their assets on the line and undergo gender-reassignment surgery. They say...