Sports Transgender Controversy


Andrey Popov

Various Sport Equipment On Floor In Front Of Brick Wall

Recently, athletes and coaches from the University of Pennsylvania have been facing a dilemma where biology goes head to head with morals. Lia Thomas, a 22-year-old transgender swimmer, crushed competition by over thirty seconds and beat two U.S. records, inciting protests of unfairness among many. Thomas competed as a man for three years prior but switched to the women’s competitions after coming out and physically transitioning. 

In a 1,650 freestyle competition, Thomas beat the closest rival, Anna Sofia Kalandaze, by 38 seconds. Similar outcomes have resulted from other swim meets and she regularly breaks womens’ swimming records. People have argued that it’s “unfair” because Thomas is biologically a man. Many have refused to refer to Thomas as a woman.

The opposers argue that biologically speaking, having Thomas in womens’ competitions is unfair because in general, men are physically stronger than women. Some say that transgender people should be completely banned from competing because in turn, it would make most or all the women record holders transgender.

Even Caitlyn Jenner, another transgender woman who was formerly Bruce Jenner, argues, “I’ve said from the beginning, biological boys should not be playing in women’s sports. We need to protect women’s sports.”

The supporters explain that transgender people should be included just like everyone else. Banning them is discrimination; it doesn’t promote equal opportunity for all. As a society that has grown from the past, acceptance is needed for everyone to be equal. 

Also, having a transgender athlete can inspire others at home, especially young people. Those who have trouble finding themselves can look at these athletes as role models, and it ultimately encourages participation in sports. If more transgender people can compete, their accomplishments would lead to more widespread acceptance. 

Michael Phelps, a former competitive swimmer and Olympic champion, got involved and said, “it has to be a level playing field. I think that’s something that we all need. Because that’s what sports are and for me, I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Thomas’s times have been accepted as the new records. Recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) required that “transgender women swimmers demonstrate they have maintained a testosterone level below 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for at least 36 months before competition.” Thomas does follow these rules, meaning that she can fairly compete. The NCAA is trying their best to provide a safe and welcoming environment. 

Even though the topic still remains controversial, some progress towards compromise has been made. There are many differing views, but everyone can agree that eventually there has to be a level playing field. Policies and rules will gradually update so that hopefully everyone can be happy.