Lia Thomas made history last week when she won the NCAA 500m freestyle title in Atlanta and became the first transgender athlete to win a US college swimming championship.
Trigger Warning: This story has details of transphobic language, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
The attacks on Thomas, which had started in the lead up to her race, intensified after she won the title.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law, issued a proclamation that Emma Weyant, who was placed second in the competition, was the “rightful” winner.
“It is my determination that men should not be competing against women such as Emma Weyant…Florida rejects the NCAA’s efforts to destroy women’s athletics, disapproves of the NCAA elevating ideology over biology, and takes offense at the NCAA trying to make others complicit in a lie,” DeSantis’ proclamation said.
The Governor’s proclamation had no impact on the final results.
Lia Thomas Complied With All Rules
According to GLAAD, Thomas “has complied with all policies and protocols to participate in the women’s swimming category. Her eligibility has been affirmed by the NCAA, UPenn, the Ivy League and supported by her teammates and hundreds of professional, Olympic and college women athletes.”
Thomas did not dominate the competitions, as many transphobic attacks against her suggested. She finished a distant fifth and eighth in the 200-yard and 100 free style races respectively.
Speaking to the media after her win, Thomas said she tries to “focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races and just try to block out everything else.”
Erica Sullivan, who finished at third place in the race, put it best in an article she penned for Newsweek. “As a woman in sports, I can tell you that I know what the real threats to women’s sports are: sexual abuse and harassment, unequal pay and resources and a lack of women in leadership. Transgender girls and women are nowhere on this list,” said Sullivan.
If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
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