Intersex and transgender people have a hard time in a world where their existence is sometimes denied and mostly ignored. The most recent example is the American swimmer Lia Thomas. She won the 500 yard freestyle at the US College Championships in Atlanta. This makes her the first trans woman to hold the highest National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title. However, the competition has been met with criticism that continues. The reason: the transgender nature of the athlete. This would make the competition unfair, the chances would no longer be equal due to a physiological advantage, and women’s sport would be threatened.
These are the usual allegations against trans athletes, which, however, should not apply in such a general way: Lia Thomas came out to her family in 2018 and some time later also publicly. In 2019, the 22-year-old began hormone replacement therapy, which has seen her lose muscle mass and strength, and her previous personal bests have deteriorated. Since 2021, Thomas has been allowed to compete for the women’s team at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies. She meets all gender guidelines to compete as a woman in NCAA swimming and does not always place first in competitions against cis women. Whether being trans affects a person’s physical performance should therefore be assessed on a case-by-case basis and by experts.
No more queer-political standstill – Tessa Ganserer is trans and supports the rights of queer people in the German Bundestag. Because there is still a lot to do.
Lia Thomas defies criticism and wants to show younger athletes: “You don’t have to choose between who you are and the sport you love,” as she tells Sports Illustrated. Commenting on the Thomas dispute, Erica Sullivan, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist, wrote: “As a woman in sport, I can tell what the real threats to women’s sport are: sexual abuse and harassment, unequal pay and resources, and a lack of women in leadership positions. «