NCAA Rule Change Doesn’t Stop Transgender Swimmer as Lia Thomas as Racks Up Two More Wins


Lia Thomas proved again this weekend that in women’s sports, it’s still a man’s world.

Days after the National Collegiate Athletic Association dashed hopes that it might offer a definitive ruling about transgender participation in sports such as women’s collegiate swimming, Thomas continued his winning streak when the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team competed against Harvard.

Thomas, who swam competitively as a man before beginning a gender transition that now has him competing against women, has been winning races and smashing records throughout this winter’s season, leaving teammates concerned that they are simply afterthoughts.

On Saturday, Thomas won the 100-meter race in 50.55 seconds, with the second-place competitor finishing in a time of 51.51. In the 200-meter race, Thomas’s first-place time was 1:47.08. The second-place swimmer finished at 1:48.44, according to Fox News.

The NCAA had previously had a rule that allowed men to compete against women if the men had had a full year of testosterone suppression treatment. The organization’s new policy is that each sport’s governing body should make its own rules.

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One commentator predicted that simply means Thomas will keep on swimming against women.

“Based on the new NCAA policy put out on Wednesday, there is nothing that would preclude Lia from racing in March at the NCAA Championships. There is a framework, some guidance, but nothing that anybody would recognize as a line-in-the-sand threshold,” Braden Keith, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SwimSwam, said.

USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, issued a statement essentially saying it was on both sides of the controversy about men competing against women.

“USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression. We also strongly believe in competitive equity, and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space,” it said in a statement, according to the New York Post.

Last week, former Olympian Donna De Varona said the current rules are unfair to women, according to Fox News.

“It may work everywhere else, maybe before puberty, and there are some sports where there is no barrier to entry,” she said. “But Lia Thomas has been a lightning rod for this debate, and it is time that the NCAA, the national governing body which controls sport, especially Olympic sport, and international federations readdress this policy because we want fairness and safety in sports. That’s what it’s all about.”

The NCAA decision was nothing more than an “evasive action” according to attorney Roger Brooks of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has defended female athletes seeking fairness in sports, according to OutKick, a sports news website.

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Brooks cited Title IX of the Higher Education Act, which is supposed to ensure equality for female athletes at the collegiate level.

“What Title IX requires is equality of athletic opportunities. Opportunities for achievement. Opportunities for victory,” Brooks said, according to OutKick. “And we also believe Title IX in requiring equal opportunities requires equal safety opportunities. It’s really a laydown hand that males, as a starting point, after puberty have a vast advantage over women that thousands of men and teen boys will beat the performance of women in the world in event after event.

Is the current NCAA policy discriminating against female athletes?

“What we’re now seeing is an increasing wave of published science over the last year or two that says that testosterone suppression can’t restore safety and fairness for women. The reality is, the only solution consistent with science is to get back to that historic solution of what we believe Title IX requires,” he said.

Brooks said eventually, colleges bending the law to appease transgender athletes will pay.

“I do think colleges like the University of Pennsylvania that are letting this happen are violating Title IX and they should be held accountable and I do think there are good arguments that the NCAA itself is essentially an agent of its member colleges and is violating Title IX,” Brooks told OutKick.

“The law is not being complied with and we hope that in due course we’ll be able to correct that.”

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