Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas Nominated For NCAA ‘Woman Of The Year’ Award

By Abdul Rafay in Sports Published On 18th July 2022

Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer, has been nominated for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Woman of the Year award (NCAA).

Thomas has made news across the globe as a result of his victories in several prestigious competitions within the US academic system.

She set records in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events in Ohio late last year.

She won the 100-, 200-, and 500-yard freestyle events in the Ivy League women's championships two months later.

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur/Sipa USA

She won an NCAA Division I championship the following month, being the first trans athlete to do it.

CNN reports that she won the women's 500-yard freestyle competition and set the season's quickest time.

Since many of her opponents think she shouldn't be permitted to compete against cis-gendered women, Thomas has grown to become the public face of the trans athlete debate.

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Before announcing the nine finalists, the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee will honor 30 women. In the finalist segment, there will be three nominees from each NCAA level.

The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select a winner from those nine finalists after which they will be announced in January 2023.

The Woman of the Year award, which has been given out for more than 30 years, honors "female student-athletes who have exceeded the limits of their eligibility and have distinguished themselves throughout their college careers in their community, in athletics, and academics."

Credit: Yale Athletics

Lia Thomas has been recommended by the University of Pennsylvania, where she has been enrolled, as a Division I swimmer and diver.

Lia asserts that she has been swimming more slowly than when she was a man and disputes the claims of her critics.

She described how she lost muscle mass during her transition in an appearance with Good Morning America.

She said: "I don’t need anybody’s permission to be myself. You can’t go halfway and be like, 'I support trans people but only to a certain point'.”

"If you support transwomen and they’ve met all the NCAA requirements, I don’t know if you can say something like that. Trans women are not a threat to women’s sport."

Thomas has questioned the wisdom of eliminating cisgender women from the competition if they "are tall, muscular, and have more testosterone."

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She added that she intends to keep swimming and that one of her goals is to take part in the 2024 Olympics. Trans women will not be permitted to compete against cis-gendered women, according to a statement made earlier this year by FINA, the world swimming governing body.

A total of 71 percent of voters chose to prohibit trans athletes from participating in elite women's races if they have undergone any aspect of male puberty.

This means that to compete, transgender athletes will now need to have finished their transition by the age of 12 and have had their male puberty suppressed by hormone blockers.