Lia Thomas’ athletic achievements as a trans woman sparked a public debate about transgender women in sports in 2021 and 2022. Lia became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I National Championship in any sport in March 2022. Since then, she has faced numerous criticisms, and Caitlyn Jenner recently stated that Lia is not the rightful winner.
Caitlyn Jenner, a retired Olympic decathlete, stated that she does not believe Lia Thomas was the ‘rightful’ winner of the NCAA Championship, claiming that the victory should have gone to runner-up Emma Weyant. This is quite a statement from Jenner, who raced at the Olympic Games as Bruce Jenner.
After winning first place in the 500-yard freestyle event with a time of 4:33:24 last week, Thomas became the first openly trans athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship. The 22-year-old University of Pennsylvania swimmer finished more than a second and a half ahead of Weyant, who crossed the line in 4:34.99. Erica Sullivan, a silver medalist in the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics last year, finished third in 4:35:92.
Thomas’ victory elicited a mixed reaction from the audience, with some applauding and others booing as she walked up to the podium to accept her medal – a divide that has been echoed on social media. Jenner, who came out as a trans woman in 2015, took to Twitter to criticize the championships’ outcome, saying that if 20-year-old Weyant had won, it would be “common sense.”
In response to a TMZ news report about Governor Ron DeSantis ‘denouncing transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ NCAA championship win,’ in which he was quoted as saying Weyant was the ‘rightful winner,’ Jenner tweeted: “@GovRonDeSantis agreed! She is the rightful winner! @TMZ It’s not transphobic or anti-trans, it’s COMMON SENSE!”
After Pink News tweeted that Jenner had launched “yet another disgraceful attack on trans athletes with no hint of irony,” the former Olympian tweeted: “No, I just had the balls to stand up for women and girls in sports.” Two days later, she posted that the industry requires “federal legislation protecting women’s sports,” and that she is “eager and willing to work with members of Congress to put an end to this politically correct “woke” madness!” This, she said, will help protect women’s sports integrity.
Earlier this year, USA Swimming proposed a new policy requiring trans women to have low testosterone levels for 36 months in order to compete. Despite only having received 34 months of treatment at the time, Thomas had already applied for the championship, leaving her fate in doubt. However, the NCAA subcommittee stated weeks later that the testosterone guidance policy would not be changed, allowing Thomas to compete.
“Implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.”
Following her victory, Thomas told former Olympian and ESPN reporter Elizabeth Beisel that she tries to ‘ignore’ her critics and controversy.
“I try to ignore it as much as I can, I try to focus on my swimming and what I need to do to get ready for my races and I just try to block out everything else. It means the world to be here, to be with two of my best friend and teammates and be able to compete.”
Lia Thomas has received a lot of flak for her victory. Let’s see how she deals with her detractors. To get the latest updates, keep an eye on Thirsty.
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