The Ivy League and the NCAA announced that swimmer Lia Thomas – born as a male named Will Thomas – will be eligible to compete in the upcoming women’s swimming league and national championships.

Meridian Baldacci, director of strategy for the Family Policy Alliance, told us how unjust it is to allow male-bodied athletes to compete against women. She said, “No girl should have to go into the sports arena knowing she faces an opponent with an unfair advantage. But thanks to the NCAA, swimmers in the league’s championships may have to face just that.”

The NCAA made its announcement today that Thomas would be eligible for its Division I Women’s Championship, March 16-19 in Atlanta. The organization said:  

There will be no changes to the NCAA’s previously approved testosterone threshold for transgender women to compete at the 2022 women’s swimming and diving championships, based on the recommendation of the Administrative Subcommittee of the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports to the NCAA Board of Governors. 

The Ivy League announcement came on February 7, as a spokesperson told Swimming World magazine:

The recent rule changes do not impact Lia’s eligibility for this month’s Ivy League Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships as the effective date for this unprecedented midseason NCAA policy change begins with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships.

The Ivy League’s swimming and diving championships are set to take place February 16-19, at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The NCAA announced in January that it had shifted to a “sport-by-sport approach to transgender participation,” giving national governing bodies the responsibility of setting policy for “transgender” athletes in each sport.

In its statement today, the organization said, “The subcommittee decided implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women’s swimming championships.” 

“Unfair and potentially detrimental” to only allow biological women to compete in women’s swimming?

You decide.

Thomas competed for the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s swim team for three seasons, from 2017 to 2020. He finished in second place in the men’s 500-, 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyle events at the men’s Ivy League Championships in 2019, his sophomore year.

In an interview with SwimSwam, Thomas said:

I first realized I was trans the summer before, in 2018. There was a lot of uncertainty, I didn’t know what I would be able to do, if I would be able to keep swimming. And so, I decided to swim out the 2018-2019 year as a man, without coming out, and that caused a lot of distress to me.

The swimmer’s “transition” began in 2019, and his junior season on the men’s team was less successful, probably due to taking testosterone suppressants. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020-2021 college swim season, and Thomas took a year off of school.

He returned in 2021, after two years of testosterone suppression and what is euphemistically labeled “hormone replacement therapy,” to swim for the women’s team.

But taking opposite sex hormones and suppressing testosterone production don’t change a male into a female. As news outlets reported, Thomas “crushed” and “destroyed” the competition and set UPenn women’s records.

In a November 2021 meet against Princeton and Cornell, Thomas won the 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle events, setting program records for the UPenn team. At the Zippy Invitational in Akron, Ohio, Thomas finished the 1,650-yard freestyle race 38 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

Last year, the Family Policy Alliance launched the “Save Girls Sports” campaign, encouraging states to pass legislation protecting sports for girls and women. Baldacci told us Thomas’ eligibility to swim as a woman demonstrates how necessary such laws are.

She said:

As a woman, I see this as evidence that states must take a stand and ensure that males do not oust female college athletes from roster spots, scholarship opportunities, or even career possibilities. Already, 10 states have passed laws to Save Girls’ Sports in their own states. More must follow suit.

Related articles and resources:

How to Get Involved: Contact Your State Policy Group

Male-Bodied UPenn Athlete Wins Women’s Swimming Events – Again

Male Swimmer – Who Identifies as Female – Competes for University of Pennsylvania’s Women’s Swim Team

Male Swimmer Wins Two More Women’s Races – Then Loses to a Female Who Identifies as Male

‘Save Women’s Sports’ – On Your State’s Legislative Agenda?

#SaveGirlsSports – New Campaign Launched by Family Policy Alliance

Photo from Facebook.