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Lia Thomas retires from competitive swimming, critics say biological men have advantage

Lia Thomas retires from competitive swimming, critics say biological men have advantage – Daily Stories

Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete who previously competed as a man on the University of Pennsylvania’s swim team, has announced her retirement from competitive swimming. Thomas, who transitioned to female, has been a controversial figure in the world of women’s sports, with critics arguing that her participation is unfair due to her biological advantages.

In a statement, Thomas cited the “isolation” and “discrimination” she has faced as reasons for her retirement. She expressed her desire for acceptance and fairness in a sport she holds dear, emphasizing that athletes should be celebrated for their accomplishments.


Critics of Thomas and other transgender athletes participating in women’s sports argue that it is unfair for individuals who were born biologically male to compete against women. They point to advantages such as larger lung capacity, larger hearts, greater circulation, a bigger skeleton, and less body fat, even after undergoing hormonal therapies.
NCAA rules require transgender athletes to undergo one year of testosterone suppression before competing as women. However, some argue that this is not sufficient to level the playing field.

In the 2022 NCAA Women’s Championships, Thomas dominated the competition and won the NCAA title in the 500 freestyle. Her success fueled further debates about the fairness of her participation.

A group of competitive swimmers, a former head coach, and an Olympian sent a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors questioning the fairness of Thomas’ participation. They argued that the governing body had caused “irrevocable damage” to women’s swimming by allowing her to compete against cisgender women while trying to appease everyone.

World Aquatics, formerly known as FINA, also denied Thomas’ request to compete for a place at the Olympics. Instead, they established an “open” category for transgender athletes in some events, aiming to balance inclusivity and fairness.

Thomas’ retirement raises questions about the ethical, biological, and societal aspects of transgender athletes in competitive sports. It prompts a discussion on how to harmonize inclusivity and fairness without disrupting traditional sports or excluding cisgender athletes.

Public opinions on Thomas’ retirement are divided, with some expressing support for her and others believing her participation was unfair to cisgender women. The debate surrounding transgender athletes in sports is likely to continue as society grapples with these complex and contentious issues.

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