Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas has used her first TV interview to hit back at critics who claim she has an “unfair advantage” as she competed on the women’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania as a trans-athlete.

Following her recent graduation from UPenn, Thomas spoke to ABC News’ Juju Chang about her struggles with gender dysphoria before she started the process of transitioning from male to female. She also spoke of how she hesitated on transitioning beforehand because she was afraid of not being able to swim competitively anymore.

“I was barely going to classes. I could really barely get out of bed,” Thomas explained. “I said, ‘I can’t live like this anymore. I want to live again. I want to be able to do things I enjoy.’”

Thomas has drawn massive public interest in recent months for breaking records in women’s swimming, though she has also been a lightning rod for controversy from critics who say that someone who was assigned male at birth like Thomas has an unfair physical advantage over women who were biologically born female. NCAA rules allow transgender athletes to compete as women after a year of hormonal replacement therapy, and the organization has announced new guidelines stating the governing body of each individual sport will determine the participation of transgender athletes.

Thomas spoke about the therapy she went through by saying, “The mental and emotional changes actually happened very quickly. I was feeling a lot better mentally. I was less depressed, and I lost muscle mass, and I became a lot weaker and a lot, a lot slower in the water.” When asked about those accusing her of having a competitive advantage over cisgender women, Thomas said, “there’s a lot of factors that go into a race and how well you do.”

Thomas did compete as a male swimmer against other male swimmers before she began transitioning.

“The biggest change for me is that I’m happy,” she continued. “Sophomore year, when I had my best times competing with the men, I was miserable. And so, having that be lifted is incredibly relieving, and allows me to put my all into training, into racing. Trans people don’t transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves. Transitioning to get an advantage is not something that ever factors into our decisions.”

Chang proceeded to bring up the letter anonymously signed by 16 of Thomas’ teammates who said her place on the women’s swim team was a “threat” to women’s sports.

“You can’t go halfway and be, like, ‘I support trans women and trans people, but only to a certain point,'” Thomas responded. “If you support trans women as women, they’ve met all the NCAA requirements; then I don’t know if you can really say something like that. Trans women are not a threat to women’s sports.”

She also rejected the idea of having transgender people be disqualified from competitions or having them only compete against each other.

“In addition to not allowing the full athletic experience, that’s incredibly othering to trans people who already face immense discrimination in other parts of our lives,” said Thomas. “To then again have this discrimination in sports and be, like, ‘Oh, OK, you can swim, but only over there, like in that lane.’ It’s very othering.”

16 thoughts on “Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas Says She Does Not Have an “Unfair Advantage””
  1. After seeing the size of this guy it doesn’t take a genius to realize that he MOST CERTAINLY has the advantage over the women he is competing with. Even tho he claims to have a lost a great deal of his strength when undergoing hormone therapy, I’d venture to guess he’s still stronger than the girls!

  2. This Transgender stuff need to Stop!!
    God made a Man & a Woman to be Different Physically
    & APPEARANCE.
    We All or “MEN” or “WOMEN”. Your Sexual & Physical Preferences are just that,.. it’s your choice..
    Questions;..
    What was his Record as a Male Competitor? Probably no Broken Records? Was his inability to Not WIN Against same Gender (MALE) Athletes determine his decision? I think so,…

  3. Very simple BAN TRANSGENDERS from ALL COMPETITION. Then establish a TRANSGENDER division and let all these freaks compete against one another.

  4. Why is everyone falling over themselves for .06% of the population? How about celebrating our veterans, serving military personnel, teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers, postal workers, farmers, ranchers – all the people who make our lives better and safer. There are two genders – male and female – if someone chooses to identify differently thats their business but no special privileges should be expected or granted.

  5. He will always have an unfair advantage over normal girls! He is not a normal/natural girl and never will be. He was born with the male physique and will always have the advantage of greater strength. Hmmm maybe they should create a catagory for transgender athletes. You were born a male or born a female . Why can’t people except what form they were born as. If you were born in the form of a male, then you are a male. The same for women. Then just make do. It really is not fair to all the regular females who have worked hard in their field under their true gender to have a male born person compete in their division. I don’t care how many hormones they take. I feel sorry for these people that think they are something that they are not.

  6. Lets get to the truth. This idiot cannot make it at anything as a man so lets pick on folks/women who obviously cannot compete with this fucktard. He fool, if you consider yourself really a transgender woman, then impress the hell out of us and get that dick and balls cut off. NO?? didn’t think so. Go fuck yourself and quit your ignorant bullshit. Loser

  7. I really feel sorry for Lia because she was so depressed. I wonder if she was that depressed when she was a he and couldn’t win against other males. Why doesn’t she just admit that as a male, she was mediocre at best and truth be told less than mediocre. The NCAA would be well served to implement a plan that creates a third category especially for these transgendered “athletes” so that they can compete with their own kind. Seems to be the only fair thing to do.

  8. At first there was swimming competition between men. Then they created similar competition between women. I would think the intelligent to consider would be a new classification of transgender. He can compete with his own kind.

  9. Bull shit, you are a male not a women. No one cares what you think. A male should not be allowed to compete with women.

  10. Look in a mirror, get the measuring tape out and BE THE MAN you were born to be and stay the hell out of womens sports. Ohhh boo wahh wahh, I was sooo depressed before. Well think how your REAL FEMALE COMPETITORS FEEL NOW, ya BIG, FRIGGIN’ TOTALLY SELF CENTERED, SELFISH OAF!!!!!!!! Buck up, and be the MAN YOU ARE and stop whining like the little girl YOU’RE NOT!!! What’s fair is fair and what you’ve INSISTED on accomplishing is DEFINITELY NOT, you TOTALLY SELFISH MAN!!! Gee, life is sooo much easier now that I’VE TOTALLY CHEATED AN HONEST, LIFE LONG DEDICATED, REAL WOMAN out of a medal, which she SOOOO TOTALLY DESERVED!!!!! Considering ALL of your physical attributes you MOST DEFINITELY AND WITHOUT A DOUBT SHOULD BE TOTALLY BANNED from ALL WOMEN’S SPORTS!!! SOOOOOOO TOTALLY UNFAIR AND SOOOO TOTALLY SHAMEFUL that you would ever have considered competing as a MANUFACTURED FREAK, or even they would allow you to!!!!!!!! Ya couldn’t cut it as the MAN YOU STILL ARE and YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY FAILING MISERABLY AS A FEMALE WANNABE!!! YOU’RE TOTALLY PITIFUL…..GET SOME HELP LOSER!!!!!!!!! THERE’S NOTHING HONEST ABOUT YOU, PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY! Ya wanna be an OAFISH LOOKING, TOWERING woman, try dressing up in drag, go to the gay bars and live your CRAZY MIXED UP LIFE…..BUT STAY THE HELL OUT OF WOMEN’S SPORTS…..YOU’RE A TOTAL MISFIT, MISFIT, MISFIT IN THAT REGARD!!!!!!

  11. Lia needs to compete under her original gender. Men and women aren’t built the same, they perform different athletically, and just because you trans from man to woman doesn’t make you eligible to compete with women, why? Because you were born a male. We all have issues, unhappiness, feeling horrible in are own skin but to think you’re going to be happy as a woman? You don’t seem happy now. Mad because your being excluded from sports that woman trained for all their lives. Sorry…. this isn’t about you at all. You didn’t foresee any problems? Many people don’t celebrate your life style. What you do is your business but don’t expect people to embrace something that to some is very offensive. I think you’re an un happy person regardless of what gender. The nerve..

  12. HE is a male. HE is not a SHE under any consideration. That shouldn’t be subject to any criteria other than a DNA test. What the hell is wrong with this country? What he thinks he is and what he wants to be is his opinion only. His DNA shows XY. Period. That’s it. An XY person should be allowed to compete only against other XY people, and only XX can compete with XX. Get over this crap. He is a cheat and scoring wins that should be thrown out. If he wanted to transgender, he should be smart enough to realize that he would have to give up some things, but he seems to want it all, regardless of the fairness. How would the people who decided HE is a SHE feel if their daughters had to compete against this bigger and stronger MALE? They would probably have a change of heart if it became personal and not a “woke” issue. This is setting sports back a couple of centuries, actually back before the Greeks. They had a lot more sense than this stupid culture.

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