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The Case of Lia Thomas and How Trans Athletes Are Destroying Women’s Sports

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Imagine working your whole life to become a high-performance athlete. You get up early to train, you maintain a strict diet, you obsess (in the good sense of the word) about improving every day, breaking your records, perfecting your technique, and becoming a top athlete who will try to win competitions and qualify for the best events in the world.

Imagine all those sacrifices and then, because of an unfair rule, you are put to compete against an athlete you can’t beat because of his superior strength and endurance due to his biology and physiognomy.

That’s what happened to swimmer Emma Weyant, who just lost the NCAA 500-yard freestyle gold medal to Lia Thomas, a trans athlete who was a frankly mediocre swimmer when she competed in the men’s event.

Imagine being Brooke Forde —the swimmer who placed fourth in this race with a very good time of 4:36.18— and not being able to get on the podium because the first place was reserved for the athlete who was more physically fit not because she had worked, trained, or tried harder; but because she is simply biologically male.

The Lia Thomas case is a severe injustice

This is unequivocally tragic for women’s sport. Gender categories were created in sport for several reasons: equality of conditions, sporting fairness, safety for the athletes, for example in contact sports such as boxing, or in collective sports such as rugby, and to keep competitiveness alive.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to destroy all these principles just to appear an image of inclusiveness by accepting trans (male) athletes in women’s sports, requesting as the only requirement the proof that they are producing little testosterone; a requirement that they are about to eliminate, increasing the injustice to disproportionate levels.

Scientifically, even with this requirement, the physical differences are abysmal, and don’t believe me, believe biology: when men enter puberty they generate twenty times more testosterone than women, which causes greater bone growth, enlargement of the muscles, lungs, and heart; more height, weight, and a series of physical changes that give men more strength and endurance. Of course, when this reality is transferred to sports, there is an important advantage of the male sex over the female.

Now, you may ask, does testosterone suppression treatment eliminate developmental gains? The answer is no. You can lose muscle mass and, obviously, strength and endurance, but there are still significant advantages. That is why trans athletes, with some exceptions, such as Emily Bridges, excel in the female categories: because they are stronger than women. That’s what the case of Lia Thomas makes clear.

To put it in context: Emma Weyant, who lost to Lia Thomas, is 20 years old and off the charts. She is a three-time U.S. national champion, won the silver medal in the women’s 400m individual medley at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; and is one of the best swimmers today, not just in the U.S., but around the world. Her future is simply bright, but today she is overshadowed by an athlete who, when she competed in her gender, was just one of the pack.

When Lia Thomas had not yet made her gender transition and was named William Thomas, she was ranked 462nd nationally. In other words, he was an athlete who would never reach the elite. However, he now competes with women and is among the top-ranked.

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Emma Weyant competing during the women’s 400m individual medley swimming event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Center in Tokyo, Japan, July 24, 2021. (Image: EFE)

Some argue, to defend trans inclusion in women’s sports, that Thomas is not winning every competition, but that doesn’t make it any less unfair. Thomas might not be winning every race (like Laurel Hubbard, the trans athlete who failed at Tokyo 2020 in the weightlifting category), she’s still good enough for her to be there, even if she is not among the best.

In fact, the case of Laurel Hubbard is the perfect example of how unfair the IOC rule is: an old athlete, with poor technique and serious injuries, made it to the Olympics, leaving several New Zealand weightlifters without a place.

As Dr. and specialist Ross Tucker explained, it only takes one “decent” male athlete to dominate the women’s sport. Right now, there are not only one-off cases like Lia Thomas, there are many, more than a hundred, according to a compilation by the Ovarit organization.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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