After transitioning, Lia Thomas (22 years old) now holds the record for women’s college swimming.

A trans swimmer and senior at the University of Pennsylvania, who previously spent three years competing as a man, has managed to break more records in women’s college swimming.

Lia Thomas (22) put in an amazing performance on Sunday. Anna Sofia Kalandaze was beaten by her 38 second record.

A day earlier she smashed another swimming record to pieces as she beat her closest rival by 7 seconds while competing at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron in Ohio. It was her time that stood out as the fastest anywhere in the country. 

She set a meet and pool record for the 500-free preliminaries on Friday. She swam 12 seconds faster in the finals than her nearest rival. It was her fastest time in all of the national events.  

Thomas was previously known as Will and has only competed in the swim meets this season. As Will, Thomas competed on the men’s team for two full seasons.

She won 3 events, and she set 3 new school records. This includes 2 Ivy League records. 

This weekend, Lia Thomas won three events and set three new school records including two new Ivy League records

Lia Thomas set new school records this weekend by setting three new events, including two Ivy League records.

Thomas was able to finish the 500-yard freestyle race in 4:34. New records were set by Akron pool, Penn school, and Ivy League records. 

She won Saturday’s 200-free with a pool meet, program and record time of 1:41.93. That is 7 seconds ahead of the second place finish. 

Thomas then won the 1,650 freestyle on Sunday in record time (15:59.71). With Kalandadze paddling for her, she won the race in 38 seconds. 

Thomas will also be eligible to participate in The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA), national championship meet at Atlanta in March. 

Thomas also took part in a 200 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay coming fourth  and 50-yard freestyle sprint in which she came sixth.  

Thomas won the 1,650 freestyle in a record time of 15:59.71 beating her closest rival Anna Sofia Kalandaze, pictured above, by 38 seconds

Thomas beat Anna Sofia Kalandaze by 38 seconds to win the 1,650 freestyle.

Thomas is still breaking records in women’s events and it has caused outrage among transgender athletes. 

Thomas transitioned at a time that is still unknown, although NCAA rules stipulate she must have undergone one year testosterone suppression treatment to qualify for the NCAA. 

The last men’s event she attended was on November 16, 2019. 

Thomas stated that she was grateful to be allowed to continue swimming earlier this year.

‘The process of coming out as being trans and continuing to swim was a lot of uncertainty and unknown around an area that’s usually really solid,’ she told Penn Today in June. That was when I realized that I was trans. What if I wanted to continue swimming? How did it look? 

Thomas' success in the pool appeared to outrage many online who struggled to accept the win

Thomas’s success in the pool seemed to anger many who were unable to accept his win online.

The senior swam in the 500m freestyle and 200m freestyle at a Tri-meet held with Cornell and Princeton on November 20. Her times beat nearly every female American swimmer.

Thomas’ time in the 200m Freestyle was 1:43:47. Thomas’s 4:35:06 finish in the 500m Freestyle would have earned her a bronze medal. 

PennAthletics declares:’Because of her strong swims in the 200 and 500 free this weekend, she will have a chance to become the first transgender student-athlete to be a Division I All-American, or even national champion.’ 

Thomas, a transgender woman, is now the first to participate in NCAA women’s swimming. 

Thomas’ participation is just one controversy in ongoing debates over transgender people being allowed to participate alongside those of the same gender. 

UPenn swim team recently posted about one of Lia's records in the 500m freestyle (pictured)

The UPenn swimming team posted recently about Lia’s record in 500m freestyle (pictured).

Will Thomas pictured swimming on the UPenn 2018-19 men's team

Will Thomas pictured on the UPenn 2018-19 Men’s Swimming Team

Thomas (pictured in 2016) was a star swimmer in high school

Thomas (pictured in 2017) was a star swimmer in high school

Thomas was the star high school swimmer (pictured 2016 and 2017. 

The tall athlete towers over her teammate Hannah Liu (left) as the pair pose together

Hannah Liu, left, the taller athlete is seen towering over Hannah Liu as they pose together 

There have been controversy surrounding transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.

Transgender women are causing a lot of controversy about participation in women’s sports. 

In June, transgender hurdler CeCe Telfer was barred from competing in the US Olympic trials after she failed to prove she could meet the testosterone requirements at the time.

World Athletics established a 5 nmol/L testosterone limit in 2019 to allow women to race in distances of 400m and 1 mile. 

Telfer's manager, David McFarland, said Telfer would respect the decision

Transgender runner CeCe Telfer

As an alternative, Chelsea Wolfe (BMX rider) traveled to Tokyo for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

She was the first transgender Olympian for Team USA. She didn’t compete at the Olympics. 

Chelsea Wolfe BMX biker

Chelsea Wolfe BMX biker 

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard declared in August she would be retiring after her appearance at the Tokyo Olympics. She failed to lift a single one.

Transgender in 2012, the 43-year old competed in New Zealand’s women’s category 87kg+. However, after becoming the first trans woman in solo competition, the event was cancelled. However In Tokyo, she did not register a valid snatch lift. 

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard 

Talking in June to Penn Today, the university’s newspaper, about her ability to continue competing as a trans athlete, Thomas said: ‘Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding.’  

Thomas is the co-chair for the Penn Non-Cis club. It is for transgender and non-cisgender persons.

“I’ve been swimming since I was 5 years old. It was difficult to come out and continue swimming in an area where there is usually a lot of stability. That was the moment I realized I was trans. What if I wanted to continue swimming? How did it look?

Her statement also stated that “One of my biggest concerns for transgender people is feeling alone.” Even if you don’t pay attention to the news … [about]States that pass vicious anti-trans laws can make it feel lonely and overwhelming. 

Lia’s successes have reignited debate as she was key to her team’s success at the 400m relay and won the 500m freestyle individual races. 

Thomas’ recent win in the women’s event has angered many. 

Linda Blade, sport performance coach and sports psychologist responded to Thomas’ most recent event saying that “Well, of course women’s record are being smashed!” For the first three years of #NCAA, Lia was a male competitor. But this is wrong! 

“We must return to #SexBasedSports!” #SexNotGender is needed to ensure fairness and equality for female athletes.

One individual said that despite the fact that there were many swimmers involved, not one said it was wrong.  

One third of the participants said that Lia Thomas was swimming against women, while another agreed.

Another user was outraged that his daughters, who swim competitively, have ‘worked their a**es off’ to get where they are for Thomas to dominate the sport. 

My two daughters compete in swimming. They train almost every day, and they practice between 3-4 times per week. Many of my girls work hard for many years, sometimes even decades. This type of shit is a constant source of anger for me. This is not progress. 

Pennsylvanian user commented: “I stand behind you and your daughters sir!” It’s absurd on so many levels. And Lia Thomas has the gall to claim that so far, competition has been rewarding. Yeah I bet! Because you are a male competing with women! Is this allowed? 

Some others played with the swimmer’s name, saying that she should “add the r”, while others refused the reference to Thomas as a woman. 

“He changed his name to Lia Thomas from Will. One said that he forgot to include the “r” at the end of his new title.  

Another writer wrote that Lia Thomas, a man named Lia Thomas broke college records. 

Another said, “Imagine the women second in line knowing they won’t have the same physical advantage as the man who beats them.” 

The criticisms were not all negative. Kirsti Miller (sport inclusion educator) shared some of the women’s swimming records with Thomas and compared them to Thomas.

Thomas being behind all records was her claim that it meant that she was not ‘dominating” women’s swim. 

Lia Thomas is pictured as Will, before she transitioned

Lia Thomas as Will is shown in this photo before she died.

Previously, Thomas (pictured as Will, before transitioning) competed for UPenn's men's swimming team for three years before having a year off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her last event for the men's team was on November 16, 2019

Thomas, pictured before she transitioned, competed in men’s swimming for UPenn for three years. She was then forced to take a year off due to the COVID-19 epidemic. On November 16, 2019, she competed in her last event as a member of the men’s swimming team.

Lia Thomas' success has sparked outrage amid controversy over transgender athletes competing in sports alongside other competitors opposite of the gender they were assigned at birth, with many claiming a 'man' broke her recent women's records. Pictured: Lia in 2020

The success of Lia Thomas has caused outrage in the wake of controversy surrounding transgender athletes participating in sports with other genders than those they were given at birth. Many claim that a “man” broke Lia’s recent female records. Lia, 2020

Emma McGee, a former swimming coach, expressed her support for Lia by saying that she was proud of her.    

Thomas was previously a member of the university’s male swimming team. He competed for three consecutive years and then had to retire due to COVID-19.  

According to the rules, a trans male (MTF), student-athlete who has been treated for testosterone suppression for Gender Identity Disorder/Gender Dysphoria/or Transsexualism may compete in NCAA competition but cannot compete on a female team. However, he or she may change to mixed status and continue competing on a men’s team until they have completed one year of testosterone suppression. 

 

A number of people voiced their anger at Thomas being allowed to compete in women's swimming competitions

Thomas’s permission to swim in women’s competitions angered many.

These guidelines state that a trans female student-athlete (MTF), transgender, who has not been prescribed hormones related to gender transition, may not be allowed to compete in a team of women.

A sports team that has included a transgender woman has been classified as mixed because she has not had testosterone suppression treatment for more than one year. This classification is ‘without exception’. 

Olympic officials had also revealed earlier in the year that they would be changing rules allowing transgender athletes into women’s competitions. 

Officials claim that the 2015 guidelines are no longer appropriate and need to be updated in order to keep up with scientific and testing advances. 

One of the possible outcomes is a push for each sport to set their own rules in an effort to break away from the current “one-size fits all” approach.

And according to The Guardian, the new guidelines will suggest that trans women should no longer be required to reduce their testosterone levels to compete. 

Though the bitter response to Thomas' recent success wasn't universal, with some congratulating the student athlete, and one person even pointing out how her results proved she wasn't 'dominating' the sport

Thomas’ recent successes didn’t draw a harsh response from everyone. There were some who congratulated Thomas and others that pointed out her lack of dominance in the sport.

Thomas (pictured recently) is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania

Thomas, pictured here recently, is a Senior at The University of Pennsylvania 

Thomas (pictured first row, right in 2020) said it's rewarding to be able to continue the sport

Thomas (pictured in the first row right in 2020) stated that it is rewarding to be able continue this sport. 

And in a reversal of the IOC’s previous stance, the new guidelines, set to be rolled out after the Beijing Winter Olympics, say that there should be no presumption that trans women have an automatic advantage over other women.

However, individual sports associations will be able to set their own trans-athlete rules. 

Trans athletes are controversial. CeCe Telfer from the United States was one of those who were barred from participating in US Olympic trials because she didn’t prove that she had the testosterone requirement.

World Athletics established a 5 nmol/L testosterone limit in 2019 to allow women to race in distances of 400m and 1 mile. 

Chelsea Wolfe (BMX rider) traveled as an alternate to Tokyo 2021 Summer Games and was the first transgender Olympian for Team USA.

New Zealand’s weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history when she became the first transgender competitor at the Games.

The New Zealander’s Olympic debut, which was the subject of much controversy prior to the Games, did not prove fruitful.

Hubbard (43), who was transitioning in 2012, fell out of the +87kg weightlifting competition for women (+190lb) without having registered a successful “snatch” lift. 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to change its guidelines on trans athletes to say that trans women should no longer be required to reduce their testosterone levels to compete

International Olympic Committee (IOC), is changing its guidelines for trans athletes. Trans women shouldn’t be required to lower their testosterone to compete.

Some states have placed restrictions in place in the U.S. on public school athletics for transgender athletes. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an October bill banning athletes from participating in sports with the same gender they identify. It also mandates that they compete according to the information on their birth certificates.

Texas was the sixth state that enacted such restrictions. The bill was signed by Texas on October 25th. Proponents claim the bill (HB-25) will ‘protect girls, while critics call it a cruel’ and ‘discriminatory’ bill that further’stigmatizes trans athletes.

In January the bill will become law. It overrides a state provision that permitted trans students to apply for a court order to allow them to choose the gender they want to be with their birth certificates.

Texas had already banned trans-athletes from participating in state competitions under the University Interscholastic League’s guidelines. This governs high school athletics.

This new law passed the House of Representatives 76-61, and the Senate 19-12. Before reaching Abbott, Abbott refused to comment publicly on it while signing it.

And in June this year, Florida’s Republican governor signed a bill barring transgender females from playing on public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls, plunging the state into the national culture war over transgender rights.

As Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into Florida’s law, he stated that Florida’s girls would play girl sports while boys would play boy sports. “We are going to ensure that this is the reality.”

The law, sure to face court challenges, inflames an already contentious discussion unfolding nationally as Republican-controlled states move to limit the rights of LGBTQ people. Florida could also be subject to severe financial penalties.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year barring transgender females from playing on Florida public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls

Transgender athletes in Texas must compete as their assigned sex at birth according to a law Governor Greg Abbott (pictured) signed in October

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left)  signed a bill earlier this year barring transgender females from playing on Florida public school teams intended for student athletes born as girls, and transgender athletes in Texas must compete as their assigned sex at birth according to a law Governor Greg Abbott (right) signed in October

Are there any rules? 

According to the NCAA Policy on Transgender Student-Athlete Participation, a trans female must have undergone at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment before being eligible to compete on a women’s team.

These rules say that a male-transgender student-athlete receiving testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder, gender dysphoria or Transsexualism can continue to compete for a team of men but not for a team of women until the completion of one calendar year.

These guidelines state that a trans female student-athlete (MTF), transgender, who has not been prescribed hormones related to gender transition, may not be allowed to compete in a team of women.

A sports team that has included a transgender woman has been admitted to the team. This classification is in effect for the rest of the academic calendar ‘without exception.

Alabama, Arkansas Mississippi, Montana Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia and West Virginia already have similar legislation. South Dakota’s governor also signed an executive ordering supporting sports bans. All of them have Republican governors.

Advocates of sports bills argue they are essential to ensure fairness.

DeSantis, accompanied by several female teenager athletes, signed the bill. The law is necessary in order to provide fairness for female athletes across the state, DeSantis said.

He said, “We’re going to choose biology over ideology for sports”

Advocate group The Human Rights Campaign stated it would contest the Florida law. It claimed that the Florida law was founded on a “false and discriminatory premise” which endangered the well-being of transgender kids.

“Transgender children and girls are both kids. Transgender girls and boys are also kids.” They, like all children, deserve to be allowed to participate in sports and join a team. Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David stated this in a statement.

Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic gold medalist, has also gotten involved in the debate, declaring that she does not support trans women participating in male sports.

Jenner was one of America’s top decathletes in the 1970s. She won gold at the Montreal Olympics 1976 in 1976. Jenner announced in 2015 that she is a transgender woman.

Jenner responded to a question regarding transgender women playing in sport with women. Jenner stated that she opposes biological trans boys participating in girl’s sports at school. This is unfair. We must protect the sports of girls in schools. 

A poll earlier in the year found that only 33% of Americans think trans athletes should have the right to participate on teams that do not match their sex.

Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey — conducted May 3 – 18 by telephone interviews with 1,016 randomly selected adults living in the US — showed that 62 percent said transgender athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Only 34% said they should have the right to be on teams with their gender identities.

Gallup researchers stated that sports policies regarding transgender athletes were a relatively new issue for Americans. Their opinions have also changed in the past, sometimes in large ways.

“Sizable majority of Americans are supportive of transgender military services in the recent years. But, the first sports policies measure suggests that the Americans don’t view the two as the same.