It has been a topic of debate since former University of Pennsylvania swimmer William ‘Lia’ Thomas took the NCAA Women’s Championships by storm in 2022.
Thomas, a man who identifies as a woman, won several races while competing against women. This sparked controversy in the athletic world over whether or not men who ‘identify’ as female should be allowed to compete on women’s teams.
Riley Gaines, former University of Kentucky swimmer and competitor of Thomas’, tweeted her opinion about the issue when an image emerged showing Thomas wearing a tank top with “ANTIFA SUPER SOLDIER” printed across it.
Doesn't this make so much make sense….
I haven't specifically bashed Lia Thomas on anything (other than calling him an entitled narcissist which I stand by) because ultimately he was following the rules in place. But this is disturbing https://t.co/EHnqkBG1kJ
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) July 17, 2023
“Doesn’t this make so much make sense…. I haven’t specifically bashed Lia Thomas on anything (other than calling him an entitled narcissist which I stand by) because ultimately he was following the rules in place. But this is disturbing,” she posted to social media.
When Thomas won the 500 free at the 2022 NCAA Championships, Penn Athletics described him as “the first Quaker female swimmer to win an NCAA individual title.”
Gaines had strong words to say about that statement tweeting “Lia Thomas is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title. He is an arrogant cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman.”
Thomas defended himself when asked about his eligibility for women’s sports stating “The very simple answer is that I’m not a man,” according to Sports Illustrated Magazine piece published that same year. “I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team. Trans people deserve that same respect every other athlete gets.”
Sane people argue that allowing those born as a man competing against females gives them advantages such as strength and size due to testosterone levels previously present in their bodies.
They also point out potential psychological problems having two genders competing together might bring in terms of safety or fairness issues throughout all levels of sport, including high school and college-level competition.
Those against also note that female athletes are disadvantaged due to these factors and lack equal opportunities for success if forced into competition with those born male regardless if they have changed gender identity or not.