It took the average American one short video clip of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas towering over her opponents to come up with this conclusion. But now doctors have followed the science and confirmed that Thomas does have an unfair advantage over the biological women she competes against. This is still true even after she has taken testosterone suppressants.
A doctor from the Mayo Clinic, Michael J. Joyner, was interviewed with The New York Times. He is an international physiologist who consults on athletic issues. He confirmed that the advantage Thomas has is “inescapable.”
“There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it. Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla,” Joyner said.
The NCAA requires transgender athletes to take testosterone suppressants, but now it has been shown through science that there is an unfair advantage over swimmers who are biologically female.
Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist, also entered the discussion saying that Thomas is “the manifestation of the scientific evidence.” The reduction in testosterone just doesn’t take away the biological advantage, Ross said.
This has been exactly what Lia’s opponents feared was true. They all have been, as one author wrote, “blown out of the water,” in the competitions Thomas has entered since transitioning from male to female when she was 19-years-old.
Thomas has risen to the top of the women’s leader board, and when she swam as a male, she was unheard of in the competition. Even her swimming teammates at Princeton University have privately made an effort to have her excluded from the women’s category. They are afraid to speak publicly about this issue because of the fear of being kicked off of the team or targeted by the LGBTQ community.
Lia Thomas is now 22-years-old. She has rarely spoken out about her situation, but she recently interviewed with Sports Illustrated. She defended her position by saying, “I am a woman, just like anybody else on the team. I’ve always viewed myself as just a swimmer. It’s what I’ve done for so long; it’s what I love. I get into the water every day and do my best,” she said.
In the article that was written by The New York Times, one of Thomas’ teammates revealed that she was rejected from the social eating club at Princeton because she was branded as a “transphobic” because she questioned Lia’s place on the team.
Nationally, there is a division amongst the sports community as well. Some have championed her cause to compete in the category she identifies with, while others say it is unfair. One of those who disagree with the position Thomas is taking is former tennis legend, Martina Navratilova. She believes it is unfair to the other women in the sport.
Navratilova took some heat for tweeting about Lia’s situation. She wrote that the swimmer should compete with an asterisk next to her name.
“I played against taller women, I played against stronger women, and I beat them all. But if I faced the male equivalent of Lia in tennis, that’s biology. I would have had no shot. And I would have been livid,” Navratilova said.
Renee Richards is a transgender tennis player who transitioned from female to male in her 40s. She said in a 2012 interview that she had changed her position to acknowledge that male biology does give transgender female athletes an advantage.
“Having lived for the past 30 years, I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me. And so I’ve reconsidered my opinion,” Richards said.
So now we have the scientific and the sports world concluding that most people had the first time they saw Thomas with the competitors.