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Lia Thomas and transgender people

Lia Thomas is an American transgender athlete who competed in swimming in college. Thomas’ victory in the 500-yard freestyle at the 2022 NCAA Division I Nationals became the topic of intense media scrutiny.


Thomas grew up in Austin, Texas and competed in swimming at Westlake High School, graduating in 2017.

Thomas attended the University of Pennsylvania and swam all four years. In 2018, after one year of college, Thomas came out as trans. In 2020, after meeting all the eligibility requirements following a gender transition, Thomas swam on the women’s team.

After the NCAA Division I Nationals, Thomas announced a plan to attend law school and compete in the Olympics. Weeks later, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) announced new rules that disqualified Thomas.

Thomas started law school at Drexel Kline School of Law in 2022.


ESPN (May 31, 2022). Penn swimmer Lia Thomas opens up about being the 1st transgender D-I athlete to win an NCAA title.


Sanchez, Robert (March 3, 2022). ‘I Am Lia’: The Trans Swimmer Dividing America Tells Her StorySports Illustrated. [archive]

Witz, Billy (January 24, 2022). As Lia Thomas Swims, Debate About Transgender Athletes SwirlsThe New York Times. [archive]

Levenson, Eric (February 23, 2022). How an Ivy League swimmer became the face of the debate on transgender women in sportsCNN. [archive]

Melnick, Kyle; Carpenter, Les (June 19, 2022). FINA vote restricts transgender athletes in women’s competitionsThe Washington Post. [archive]

DiAmore, Isabella (November 13, 2022). Lia Thomas speaks on equal opportunity for trans athletes as Penn swimming has sights set on this season. Philadelphia Inquirer


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