Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, has stated that her kind does not pose a threat to women’s sports. Thomas has recently emerged as the public face of the debate over transgender women in sports. She arrived at the University of Pennsylvania as a man and joined the men’s swimming team in 2017, but Lia Thomas became increasingly depressed during her first years in college.
She then transformed into a woman and has since competed among the women. Following NCAA guidelines, she took a year off from swimming before returning to the UPenn women’s team in 2020. Since then, she has won every race she has entered, prompting activists to demand that she be barred from competing against biological females. Thomas became the first transgender person in March.
Thomas said: “Trans people don’t transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves.”
“That’s part of what kept me from transitioning for so long. The thing is, I wasn’t sure if I could continue swimming and doing the sport that I love,” Lia Thomas said.
Speaking about when she began hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in 2019 during her sophomore year, she said;
“The mental and emotional changes actually happened very quickly,” she said. “I was feeling a lot better mentally, I was less depressed and I lost muscle mass. I became a lot weaker and a lot slower in the water.”
“I knew there would be scrutiny against me if I competed as a woman. I was prepared for that,” she said. “But I also don’t need anybody’s permission to be myself and to do the sport that I love.”
Thomas said “there are a lot of factors that go into a race,” but the biggest difference now is that she is happy.”It allows me to put my all into training and to racing,” she said.
Now out of college, she has her eyes set on something bigger.
“It’s been a goal of mine to just swim at an Olympic trials for a very long time and I would love to see that through,”