Trans swimmer Lia Thomas sues World Aquatics in hopes of racing against Women at the Olympics

Lia Thomas is the accomplished US swimmer who made history as the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA college title. He is embarking on a legal journey to regain eligibility in elite female sports, including the prestigious Olympics.

Since the implementation of new rules by World Aquatics in 2022, Thomas has been sidelined from competitive swimming. These regulations now bar individuals who have experienced “any part of male puberty” from participating in the female category. Previously, transgender women could compete by lowering their testosterone levels.

In a comprehensive policy document guiding their stance, World Aquatics highlighted that swimmers like Thomas retained substantial physical advantages. They have better endurance, power, speed, strength, and lung size—resulting from male puberty. This is even after testosterone level adjustments through medication.

Prior to transitioning, Thomas was a mediocre swimmer in the men’s division. She has now enlisted Canadian firm Tyr to represent her. Since the 25-year-old is not presently registered with US Swimming, it is believed that the matter will not likely be heard before the Olympics in Paris.

The recent revelation was disclosed by the Daily Telegraph. It adds another layer to the ongoing debate surrounding fairness and safety in women’s sports, pitting those advocating for fairness in women’s sports against people prioritizing the inclusion of transgender athletes.

Thomas has consistently refuted claims of transitioning for a competitive edge. In 2022, she addressed the misconception by stating: “The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned. Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage, so she could win.’ I transitioned to be happy, to be true to myself.”

Brent Nowicki is the executive director of World Aquatics. He staunchly defended the organization’s gender inclusion policy in a statement on Thursday. He emphasized that the policy was developed rigorously based on advice from leading medical and legal experts, coupled with careful consultation with athletes.

He stated: “World Aquatics remains confident that its gender inclusion policy represents a fair approach, and remains absolutely determined to protect women’s sport.”

While Thomas is yet to comment on the legal proceedings, the outcome will undoubtedly be closely monitored by other governing bodies. In recent years, sports like rugby, athletics, and cycling have tightened their regulations.