Will Trans Athletes Help Advance Women's Sports or Create Unfair Competition?

Headline Roundup March 22nd, 2022

The success of University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, continues to drive debate about trans athletes in women's sports.

Thomas became the first known transgender athlete to win a national collegiate championship last week when she placed first in the 500-yard freestyle event. Her time was nine seconds behind the event's all-time record. Thomas and her success since joining the UPenn women's swim team this year have divided voices across the spectrum. Some say Thomas's success is inspirational for the LGBTQ+ community; others say she puts competitors at an unfair disadvantage. The women's swim world is also divided, with some of Thomas's teammates supporting her participation and others opposing it. In a 2021 Gallup (Center bias) poll, 62% of U.S. adults said trans athletes should play on teams that match their birth gender.

Many on the right argue that male puberty, physics and biology give trans female athletes an undeniable advantage over cisgender athletes, and frame Thomas's height and other physical features as evidence. These voices often argue that allowing trans women into women's sporting events runs counter to traditional feminism. Conversely, some left-rated voices argue that Thomas will help advance the relevancy and prestige of women's sports. Some also cite a lack of evidence for a connection between testosterone levels and athletic performance. One analysis from Christian Science Monitor expressed optimism that current good-faith debates about trans athletes' rights will lead sporting bodies to develop rules and frameworks that satisfy both sides. 

From the Left
2000
OPINION

On Saturday, University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas placed last in the 100-yard freestyle swim during the NCAA championships, ending her career in collegiate swimming. A last-place showing at an NCAA swim meet, even a championship one, would not typically garner national headlines. Yet, Thomas has been at the center of controversy regarding her eligibility to compete in women's events.

This controversy came to an apex last week at the NCAA championships when she became the first openly trans athlete to win a Division I championship in any sport. For anyone who cares about...

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From the Center
2000
ANALYSIS

At a recent Ivy League swim meet, spectators were split over which side of the pool to look at. 

At one end, several women jackknifed their bodies in flip turns for the final lap of the 500-meter freestyle. Their furious kicks churned the water and left white vapor trails in the sky-blue pool. On the other end, a swimmer named Lia Thomas had already finished and broken the Harvard pool record. In the 7.5 seconds it took for the second-place swimmer to arrive, Ms. Thomas adjusted her swimming cap, took...

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From the Right
2000
OPINION

For all the think pieces and Twitter tirades penned over the transgender athlete debate, in the end, it really was a picture that said the definitive thousand words. After winning the NCAA 500-yard freestyle by just shy of two seconds, transgender Penn student Lia Thomas stood victorious next to the two girls relegated to second and third place.

In the picture, Lia carries the trophy. Lia stands atop the highest podium. And next to second-place winner Emma Weyant and third place Erica Sullivan, Lia's body is clearly not that of...

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