By Brittany Bernstein, National Review
Lia Thomas, a record-setting transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer, addressed the controversy around the participation of a male swimmer on the women’s swim team, saying in a newly published interview, “I’m a woman, just like anybody else on the team.”
Thomas, who competed on Penn’s mens team for three years, has ruffled feathers this season as the swimmer set pool, school, and Ivy League records. Critics have pointed out that Thomas has an unfair biological advantage from years of competing as a man.
One Penn parent told Sports Illustrated that while “Lia is a human being who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity,” that it is “not transphobic to say I disagree with where she’s swimming.”
Thomas told the magazine that argument is disingenuous: “The very simple answer is that I’m not a man.”
“I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team. Trans people deserve that same respect every other athlete gets,” Thomas said.
Thomas, who had previously only spoken publicly to swimming-news website SwimSwam, claims swimming is not about winning or setting records: “I get into the water every day and do my best.”
Thomas also denied media reports that Thomas has an attitude, including that the swimmer jokes about how easy it is to win races, that Thomas purposely swam slowly at a meet against Iszac Henig, a trans man who swims on Yale’s women’s team; and that Thomas is the self-proclaimed “Jackie Robinson of trans sports.”
Of 37 swimmers on the team, sources told Sports Illustrated that six to eight of the swimmers are adamant supporters of Thomas while half the team opposes Thomas competing against women and the rest have disengaged from the debate.
Read more at National Review.