The Background: As a result of repeated triumphs, male-to-female trans athlete Lia Thomas has been the center of the news cycle for months. This week, Thomas’ reign continues after winning three events and setting five records at the Ivy Championships.
- Thomas competed on Penn’s men’s swim team as recently as 2019. After suppressing testosterone for one year, Thomas is now permitted by the NCAA to swim in all-female races.
- This season, Thomas has indisputably crushed competitors: winning numerous races and breaking dozens of records. In one race, Thomas beat the runner-up by 38 seconds.
- Before transitioning, Thomas was ranked #462 in the NCAA men’s official swimming competitions. Now, Thomas is ranked #1 in the women’s category and is favored to win the NCAA Championships.
The Biology: Thomas’s success in women’s swimming can be attributed to the fact that men and women are inherently different.
- Biological males have greater strength, speed, and lung capacity than females.
- While women’s bodies are more apt for storing fat, men’s bodies are meant to build and retain muscle.
- Men benefit from testosterone which lends itself to making them larger, taller, and stronger than females.
- Additionally, men have a greater number of red blood cells and utilize more Type II muscle fibers. This enables men to perform aerobic exercise with greater ease.
Experts believe that the NCAA’s guidelines fail to compensate for the years of training in which men’s testosterone facilitated effortless muscle growth: “that strength does not disappear overnight.” In tandem, these biological differences give male swimmers an advantage over female swimmers that is comparable to doping.
The Backlash: Responses to Thomas’s “success” in all-female swimming competitions have fallen along party lines.
- The right acknowledges the physical advantages that a male body yields and denounces transgender participation in high-level competitions as the beginning of the end of women’s sports.
- Some feminists believe this unlevel playing field to be a blow to the gender equity that they fought so hard for: they worry that allowing male-to-female athletes to compete will hold women back and discourage female athletes from pursuing competition.
On the other hand, progressives celebrate these “historic” and “record-breaking” transgender athletes, with no regard for the fact that women no longer have a fair space to compete.