Lia Thomas succeeding from ‘hard work’ not because she’s transgender, Penn Law groups say

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Lia Thomas succeeding from ‘hard work’ not because she’s transgender, Penn Law groups say

[ad_1] Lia Thomas, the transgender Penn swimmer who has dominated the pool for the Quakers this season, received support from more than a dozen Penn

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Lia Thomas, the transgender Penn swimmer who has dominated the pool for the Quakers this season, received support from more than a dozen Penn Law groups in a column published Tuesday.

Listed as signatories to the column were Penn Law for Philly, Law Students for a Democratic Society, Penn Law Lambda, Trans Empowerment @ Advocacy Project, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, American Constitution Society, International Human Rights Advocates, Penn Law National Lawyers Guild, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change, Civil Rights Law Project, Penn Law Boxing Club, Toll Scholar Classes 2022, 2023 and 2024, Latinx Law Students Association, Disabled & Allied Students Association and Penn Law Women’s Association.

The column appeared in The Daily Pennsylvanian, a Penn student publication.

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UPenn Swimmer Lia Thomas

UPenn Swimmer Lia Thomas
(Fox News Digital)

The column argued that Thomas was performing well in the pool because of “hard work” – and not because she was at a so-called competitive advantage.

“Thomas, who has been swimming since she was five years old, had an incredible season following a year-long break; she won events, broke records, and earned bids to the NCAA championships,” the column read. “Thomas did not succeed because she is transgender; she succeeded because of the hard work she has put in throughout her long swimming career, and because she is finally able to authentically be herself and race in a sport that she loves.”

The column offered “support” for Thomas and all transgender athletes.

“Lia Thomas belongs on the Penn women’s swim team, Lia Thomas belongs in sports, and all trans athletes belong in sports.”

National spotlight

Thomas had competed for the Penn’s men’s team before switching to the women’s team. She followed the NCAA’s original transgender participation rules undergoing hormone suppression treatments for a year before she competed in the pool.

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Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers after winning the 500 meter freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 8, 2022 in Philadelphia. 

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers after winning the 500 meter freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 8, 2022 in Philadelphia. 
(Getty Images)

She was thrust into the national spotlight when she won the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries and finals at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron last month and posted the fastest times of any female college swimmer in the 500-yard and 200-yard freestyle competitions. She wasn’t as dominant in her recent tri-meet against Yale and Dartmouth, winning the 200- and 500-yard freestyles and finishing in fifth place in the 100-yard freestyle.

Thomas didn’t participate in Penn’s final meet of the regular season against West Chester University with the Ivy League Championships around the corner. Her eligibility for the NCAA Championships is now in question thanks to the NCAA’s updated transgender policy.

Sport-by-sport policy

The NCAA announced last week its policy for transgender participation will be determined on a sport-by-sport basis. If there is no national governing body for the sport, then the NCAA sport will follow the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) policy. The NCAA said the policy would start with the winter championships. The NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships are set for March 16-19 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

The updated policy for the NCAA says that, by March, “Transgender student-athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. Starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender student-athletes will need documented levels at the beginning of their season and a second documentation six months after the first. They will also need documented testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections. Full implementation would begin with the 2023-24 academic year.”

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USA Swimming, which uses an eligibility review panel to make a decision on transgender athletes’ eligibility, said they believe FINA would release a new policy for elite-level competitions.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers gets ready to compete in a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 8, 2022 in Philadelphia.

Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers gets ready to compete in a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at Sheerr Pool on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania on Jan. 8, 2022 in Philadelphia.
(Getty Images)

The IOC updated its transgender participation policy in November 2021, refraining from the focus on testosterone levels to determine eligibility, according to The Washington Post. The IOC urged the governing bodies of each individual sport to create the rules while offering assistance.

“Every athlete has the right to practice sport without discrimination and in a way that respects their health, safety and dignity,” the updated rules stated. “At the same time the credibility of competitive sport — and particularly high-level sporting competitions — relies on a level playing field where no athlete has an unfair or disproportionate advantage over the rest.”

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Right now, it’s unclear whether Thomas will be able to compete in the NCAA Championships. Penn and the Ivy League both have expressed support for Thomas.

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