Lia Thomas: The allegedly unfair swimming race


Courtesy of Gay Times and Ted Eytan

Lia Thomas won the women’s swimming 500-yard freestyle on March 17, making her the first transgender person to have the NCAA championship title. Some people believe the competition was unfair. 

The controversy is whether Thomas should be able to compete. According to Hall of Fame coach Veronica Malone, formerly known as Peter Malone, different levels and ages of sports may be necessary.  

“We need to make sure we don’t exclude, but we also need fairness balanced with inclusion, which might vary at different levels and ages of sports,” Malone said. 

Excluding trangender individuals is not necessary; however, a better approach may be to have more categories of competition that will coincide with the science behind puberty and hormone replacement therapy. 

Thomas went through puberty as a male and began hormone replacement therapy in 2019. In the same year, she wore a women’s suit and swam the 1000-yard freestyle against the Columbia men.

A study from Science Daily has shown females had faster swimming times than males as prepubescent children, but male swim times had faster times than females at puberty. 

Males have more strength and biological advancements than females. Many studies and students have shown this.

An anonymous survey given to 48 SLU students showed 87.5% of students believe Thomas has advantages from undergoing male puberty.

A student said, “Bone density, muscle density and all the other advantages that testosterone provides physically to men through puberty and beyond. This is a matter of biology, not equality. Males and females have different attributes provided by biological makeup.”

The survey also showed approximately 88% of students believe the race was unfair to women in the competition. A student explained that just because Thomas is now considered a woman does not mean she lost the physical abilities she once had as a man, which makes the competition unfair to other women.

Females who transition into males are dismissed in sports competitions, and the reason is former females do not have enough physical attributes to fairly compete with men. This is due to biology and how male and female bodies are structured. 

Lung capacity, larger hands, larger feet and difference in height are some advantages Thomas has from undergoing male puberty. On top of that, Malone mentioned the one-year rule is not enough time for testosterone to be suppressed fully. 

Malone said her strength is down, but she is ten years into it. She said it did not diminish after two or three years and that her performance levels during that period were not discouraged. 

To make the competition fair, it may be necessary to have different categories, such as a category for transgenders who have gone through male or female puberty.

Lia Thomas should be allowed to compete, but there should be other categories available to ensure everyone has the same chance.