Lia Thomas announces retirement from competitive swimming: “The women’s team doesn’t want me on their team,” while the men’s team said she is welcome.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is refusing to acknowledge transgender swimmer Lia Thomas as the winner of a college swimming championship.

Last week saw Thomas win the women’s 500-yard freestyle event at a competition in Atlanta, Georgia and become the first transgender woman to become a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion.

It’s the highest honour a collegiate athlete can earn in the USA and Thomas won the title in four minutes 33.24 seconds.

She beat Florida native Emma Weyant and DeSantis has decided he’ll be recognising her as the winner.

“They’re crowning somebody else the women’s champion and we think that’s wrong,” he said in a statement.

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“They are putting ideology ahead of opportunity for women athletes and I think that there are just some people that are afraid to speak out and say what they are doing, but that is what they are doing.”

Reuters asked the NCAA for a comment but they didn’t immediately respond.

Thomas previously swam for the University of Pennsylvania’s men’s team before starting hormone replacement therapy in 2019.

Transgender rights remain a controversial topic in the United States and Thomas’ case has captured the attention of the nation.

Thomas hit back at the critics in an interview earlier this month and said she wants to inspire other trans people with her story.

“The very simple answer is that I’m not a man,” she explained to Sports Illustrated.

“I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team. Trans people deserve that same respect every other athlete gets.

“I just want to show trans kids and younger trans athletes that they’re not alone. They don’t have to choose between who they are and the sport they love.

“I don’t know exactly what the future of my swimming will look like after this year, but I would love to continue doing it. I want to swim and compete as who I am.”

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Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas Nominated For Woman Of The Year Award

Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas Nominated For Woman Of The Year Award

Her nomination has left people divided with fans taking to social media to have their say.

Thomas made headlines around the world over the past year after she shattered a number of female records in the US college system.

Late last year, she set new records in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle races before going on to win the 100-yard, 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle races at the Ivy League women’s championships a few months later.

The following month, she became the first trans athlete to win an NCAA Division I title.

She finished first in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event and recorded the fastest time of the NCAA season, according to CNN.

Lia Thomas.

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Thomas has since become the face of the trans athlete debate as many of her critics believe she shouldn’t be allowed to race against cisgendered women.

Now Thomas has got people talking again after it was confirmed that her name had been thrown into the hat for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year.

The NCAA Woman of the Year panel will pick 30 honourees before revealing nine finalists.

There will be three nominees from each NCAA division in the finalist section.

Once those nine finalists are revealed, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will then pick their winner and they will be revealed in January 2023.

The Woman of the Year award has been running for more than 30 years and recognises ‘female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers’.

Lia Thomas has been nominated as a Division I athlete for Swimming and Diving by the University of Pennsylvania, where she has been studying.

Despite what her critics say, Lia says she has been swimming slower than when she was male and she doesn’t believe she has an unfair advantage.

UPenn

In an interview with Good Morning America, she explained how she lost muscle mass during her transition.

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 asked her critics whether cisgender women who are competing should also be disqualified if they ‘are tall, muscular and have more testosterone’.

She also confirmed she plans to continue swimming and aims to compete at the 2024 Olympics.

However, the world governing body for swimming, FINA, announced earlier this year that trans women would not be allowed to compete against cisgendered women.

A total of 71 percent of voters opted to stop trans athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.

This means transgender competitors will have now had to have completed their transition by the age of 12 – i.e. have had male puberty suppressed by hormone blockers – in order to compete.

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