Lia Thomas, a swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, shattered records after transitioning from male to female and joining the women’s team.
Thomas, who is biologically male, competed for three years on the men’s team before moving to the women’s team after transitioning, the Daily Mail reported. NCAA rules require males to undergo at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment before they can compete in the women’s category.
Thomas’ top time for the 500 free event in the male category was 4:18.72. Thomas won the 500 free while competing against Villanova and participated in eight regular season events as a male in the 2019-2020 season.
While competing on the women’s team, Thomas shattered the 500 free Ivy League record at 4:35.06, winning the event by almost 13 seconds. Thomas also broke the women’s Ivy League record for the 200 free and beat the second-place swimmer by over six seconds.
“Being trans has not affected my ability to do this sport and being able to continue is very rewarding,” Thomas told Penn Today in June.
Thomas, a leader of the Penn Non-Cis club, is 22 and began swimming at the age of 5, according to Penn Today.
Males have a physical advantage over females in sports which decreases but is not erased by testosterone suppression, the Sports Councils’ Equality Group found in September. Males who undergo testosterone suppression in adulthood retain natural advantages based on height advantage and bone density.
Sports associations have struggled to balance the inclusion of transgender athletes with fairness for female athletes. Transgender athletes were allowed to compete in the gender division of their choice based on gender identity in the 2020 Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee recommended in November that sports organizations stop requiring male-to-female transitioning athletes to undergo hormone therapy before competing in women’s sports.
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