NCAA Clears the Way for Trans Swimmer Lia Thomas to Compete in Women’s National Championships

Lia Thomas
JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced it will allow transgender swimmer Lia Thomas to use new rules extending the time trans athletes had to demonstrate lowered testosterone levels.

The move means University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who competed for the men’s team for three years before “identifying” as a woman, can compete in the women’s national championship.

“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,” the NCAA said in a statement.

According to Bleacher Report:

The NCAA said transgender athletes will only have to comply with rules set forth under a 2010 policy that requires male-to-female transgender athletes have less than 10 nanomoles per liter of testosterone in their blood.

A new USA Swimming policy, which was announced last week, allows for a maximum of five nanomoles per liter of testosterone and must be demonstrated for a 36-month period.

Thomas holds the top times in the NCAA in two events and is considered to be a strong contender to win a national championship.

Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, walks to the pool to swim for the for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League meet against Harvard...

Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, walks to the pool to swim for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League meet against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2022. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Citing the unfair advantage of a male competing in the women’s division, sixteen of Thomas’ 41 teammates asked the NCAA to use new Team USA rules and bar her from competition.

“We, 16 members of the Penn Women’s Swimming Team and our family members, thank USA Swimming, for listening to our request to prioritize fairness for biological women in our elite competitions,” the women’s letter said. “We ask that Penn and the Ivy League support us as biological women, and not engage in legal action with the NCAA to challenge these new Athlete Inclusion Policies.”

But six of Thomas’ teammates joined more than 300 swimmers who sent an open letter to the NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports in favor of him competing.

Lia Thomas, a transgender woman , gathers with her teammates before she swims for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League swim meet against...

Lia Thomas, a transgender woman (C), gathers with her teammates before she swims for the University of Pennsylvania at an Ivy League swim meet against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 22, 2022. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

“With this letter, we express our support for Lia Thomas, and all transgender college athletes, who deserve to be able to participate in safe and welcoming athletic environments,” the letter in support of Thomas said. “We urge you to not allow political pressure to compromise the safety and wellbeing of college athletes everywhere.”

More than 20 states have considered or passed bills banning transgender school athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity over the last two years, NBC reported.

Thomas will compete at Ivy League championships beginning Feb. 16, and the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships will take place March 16-19.

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