USA Swimming updates transgender eligibility rules after male-born swimmer beats rivals by 38 seconds

Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas looks on as she celebrates senior day with her teammates during a swim meet, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Philadelphia. The NCAA has adopted a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes, bringing the organization in line with the U.S. and International Olympic Committees. NCAA rules on transgender athletes returned to the forefront when Penn swimmer Lia Thomas started smashing records this year. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

The national governing body for swimming in the United States has updated its policy regarding the eligibility of transgender athletes in competitive events.

The new rules which were introduced on Tuesday and are effective immediately will see the establishment of a three-person medical panel used to determine the extent to which the “prior physical development of the athlete as a male” gives an individual an unfair advantage over their competitors.

USA Swimming also confirmed that male-born transgender swimmers will be required to prove they have possessed a low testosterone level for as long as 36 months prior to competing in events.

Amendments to existing rules had been proposed after various reports of male-born athletes vastly outpacing cisgender female competitors.

Transgender athlete Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania caused controversy in December when she qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships via a race in which Thomas was 38 seconds faster than any other competitor.

Thomas had reportedly competed on the men’s university team for three seasons before commencing hormone replacement therapy back in 2019.

USA Swimming said in a statement that it will “champion gender equity and the inclusivity of all cisgender and transgender women and their rights to participate in sport, while also fervently supporting competitive equity at elite levels of competition.”

The new eligibility requirements were not enough to satisfy women’s rights groups including the Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) and Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), who both said on Tuesday that the decision still prioritized “transgender inclusion over equal opportunity for female athletes.

“In so doing, USA Swimming joins the NCAA in putting female athletes last,” they added. 

U.S. media personality and Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner sparked a debate on the issue last month, slamming the sport’s governing bodies for appeasing the woke brigade.

“Her hands are bigger. She can swim faster. That’s a known,” Jenner said in reference to Lia Thomas. 

“All of this woke world that we’re living in right now is not working. I feel sorry for the other athletes that are out there, especially at Penn or anyone she’s competing against, because in the woke world you have to say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is great.’ No it’s not.”

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