Lia Thomas made waves in the sports world after winning the women’s NCAA Division I championship in swimming in 2022.
Born male, Thomas’ victory prompted backlash from those who argue that only athletes born as females should compete in women’s sports. In response, Thomas called out her teammates who were “half” supportive of her win and critical of her competing as a biological man.
In an interview on fellow trans swimmer Schuyler Bailar’s podcast “Dear Schuyler,” Thomas discussed the difficulty of receiving “half support” from her teammates.
While they claimed to respect her identity as a trans woman, they believed it was unfair for her to compete in the women’s division. Thomas argues that this type of half support is not helpful and ultimately falls flat.
Thomas further expressed her frustration with those who use the guise of feminism to push transphobic beliefs. She believes that people who argue for the exclusion of trans athletes reduce women to reproductive capacity, which is, in her opinion, extremely anti-feminist.
“They’re using the guise of feminism to sort of push transphobic beliefs. I think a lot of people in that camp sort of carry an implicit bias against trans people but don’t want to, I guess, fully manifest or speak that out. And so they try to just play it off as this sort of half support.”
“They think about how twisted ‘feminism’ has become their arguments. In order to exclude anybody in the trans category, you have to reduce women to reproductive capacity, which is, in my opinion, extremely anti-feminist,” Bailar said.
Despite the heightened debate around transgender athletes in women’s sports, Thomas does not feel responsible for it. Instead, she places the responsibility on those who are against the phenomenon. Thomas believes that these people were waiting for a trans woman to be successful so they could pass legislation against trans people.
Recently, the U.S. House passed legislation aimed at preventing biological males from competing as transgender athletes in girls and women’s sports at schools across the country. This move has sparked debate between Democrats and Republicans, with some accusing Republicans of “bullying” transgender students.