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The Lafayette Ledger

The Lafayette Ledger

Trans Athletes in Sports

AgĂȘncia Brasil Fotografias, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Lia Thomas is an American swimmer who swam for the University of Pennsylvania. For her first three years as a collegiate swimmer, she swam on the men’s team. She started gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in May 2019, and was able to compete on the women’s team for her final season during the 2021-2022 school year. During her last season as a collegiate athlete, she became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 championship title. According to, Thomas was ranked 462nd in the country for male swimmers. Once she transitioned, she was ranked first in the country for female swimmers.

According to, Thomas did not have an unfair advantage over the other female athletes. The NCAA allows trans women to compete on the women’s team after they have been on HRT for a certain amount of time. Thomas had been on HRT for almost three years, which caused her to lose strength and an inch of height. These changes not only allowed Lia to gain the appearance of a woman, but she was also able to perform at the same level as the other women athletes in her division. Every athlete at the NCAA championships is a phenomenal athlete, and Lia Thomas is no exception. She placed top eight in the 500 yard freestyle, 200 yard freestyle, and the 100 yard freestyle. While these results are incredible, they are not record-breaking, which puts Thomas further in line with the other female athletes.

There has been much confusion circling the issue of allowing transgender female athletes to compete on women’s teams. In an article posted by swimswam, House Republicans passed a bill that seriously limited trans participation in women’s sports. Specifically, this bill states that any trans athlete that was assigned as a male at birth is not allowed to compete on women’s teams at federally supported colleges and schools. Those opposed to the bill say that children deserve the chance to be a part of a team, regardless of gender identity. They state that this bill sends the wrong message to children who are already facing discrimination outside of sports.

One possible solution to help minimize discrimination on this issue would be to create an “open” category. According to, British Triathlon created an open category to include transgender and nonbinary participants. There are two categories for athletes over the age of 12: “female,” which includes anyone who was born female, and “open,” which includes those who are born men or identify as men, as well as transgender and nonbinary people. Following the creation of this category, British Triathlon stated “…it reflects the need of our sport, protects fairness in competition and serves our desire to make triathlon truly inclusive.” More than 3,000 people were consulted in a survey, and focus groups were hosted to interview athletes, staff, committee members, and academics on this debate. After months of consultations and focus groups, British Triathlon made the decision to create the “open” category. Adding the open category as a third category was also considered, but it was concluded that there wouldn’t be a significant number 0f athletes competing in that category. British Triathlon is the first governing body in the UK to create an open category.

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