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This Photo Sums Up How Many Americans View Transgender NCAA Swimmer’s Latest Victory

Lia Thomas, a transgender athlete who attends the University of Pennsylvania, took first place Thursday at the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships.


The backlash against allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports is only growing louder.


A photo shared widely on social media showed the race’s second, third and fourth place finishers –  Emma Weyant, Erica Sullivan and Brooke Forde – posing together at the podium while Thomas stood several feet away.

With the victory, Thomas became the first transgender competitor to win an NCAA Division I championship in any sport.

  • According to NCAA policy, male-to-female transgender athletes are eligible to compete on women’s teams after “completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.”
  • Trans competitors must also submit laboratory results verifying that an athlete’s testosterone levels fall within accepted limits.
  • “It means the world to be here,” Thomas told ESPN after the race.


Critics cite Thomas’ multiple, dominant victories as evidence that she maintains an unfair advantage over her competitors.

  • More than 20 members of Save Women’s Sports and Young Women for America, one of the groups that has sprung up in response to the issue of transgender collegiate athletes, protested Thomas’ participation at the meet on Thursday.
  • Some parents of female college athletes also spoke out in protest following Thomas’ win.
  • On social media, a flurry of commenters expressed support for Weyant, the second-place finisher.

“Round of applause for Emma Weyant, the UVA swimmer who placed second in the 500y freestyle tonight, behind Lia Thomas. Second is the new first,” tweeted Department of Education press secretary Angela Morabito.

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