Two medical doctors have gone on record confirming that trans swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously competed for three years as a man at the University of Pennsylvania, gained an unfair advantage when allowed to compete against biological females, despite taking testosterone suppressants.
"There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it," Dr. Michael J. Joyner, a physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, told The New York Times in a story published Sunday. "Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla."
As CBN News reported, NCAA rules require at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment in order to compete in women's events. Thomas, who came out as transgender in 2019, has undergone two years of testosterone suppression and began swimming on the women's UPenn team at the start of her senior year.
But peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that even with this treatment, athletes with biologically male DNA and physiology still have an unfair advantage when competing against biological women.
"Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence," Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist who consults on world athletics told The Times. "The reduction in testosterone did not remove her biological advantage."
A Harvard University lecturer who's also the co-director of undergraduate studies in human evolutionary biology at the university also told the newspaper that LGBT advocates mistakenly blend gender identity with biological sex.
"Activists conflate sex and gender in a way that is really confusing," Dr. Carole Hooven, told the newspaper. Hooven wrote the book T: The Story of Testosterone.
"There is a large performance gap between healthy normal populations of males and females, and that is driven by testosterone," she added."
Thomas won the national title in the NCAA Div. 1 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships last March. The win raised awareness of the threat that transgender athletes pose to women's sports, and the public outcry continues to escalate.
Won a Women's National Title, Never Qualified for Division 1 Championship as a Man
Thomas beat the University of Virginia's Emma Weyant by over a second to win the 500 freestyle despite never qualifying for the Div. 1 championship during his three years competing on the University of Pennsylvania's men's team. Thomas is the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA swimming championship.
During an exclusive interview with ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday, Thomas, 23, said she plans to keep swimming with a new goal in mind.
"I intend to keep swimming," Thomas said. "It's been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time, and I would love to see that through."
But Thomas' participation on the UPenn women's team sparked debate over trans inclusion in girls' sports and whether it is fair to biologically female athletes.
Several of Thomas' teammates spoke out against the transgender swimmer's participation on the team, but they spoke anonymously for fear of being sidelined by UPenn or labeled as "transphobic."
In their letter to the school, they said they believe their teammate should be sidelined. They also raised the question of fairness and said Thomas was taking "competitive opportunities" away from them — namely spots in the Ivy League championship meet, where schools can only send about half of their rosters to compete, according to The Washington Post.
Thomas responded to the letters during the interview with ABC.
"You can't go halfway and be, like, 'I support trans women and trans people, but only to a certain point,'" Thomas said. "Where if you support trans women as women they've met all the NCAA requirements, then I don't know if you can really say something like that."
"Trans women are not a threat to women's sports," Thomas said.
But critics of trans inclusion have continued to point to the biological differences between men and women that make biological men who identify as trans women stronger and faster than their female counterparts. They have also pointed to the question of fairness with some saying if nothing is done, it will be the end of women's sports.
As CBN News reported earlier this month, the controversy has even led one major coaches association to call for a separate "transgender division" to save women's and girls' sports.
The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) is urging FINA, an international governing board for water sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee, to create a "Trans Division" due to men's physiological dominance over female athletes.
In a position statement published on the WSCA website, the group told the water sports board that the sport of swimming should be in an environment where everyone can participate and be treated with dignity and respect.
"However, the inclusion of transgender people into female sport cannot be balanced with fairness due to the retained differences in strength, stamina, and physique that are present when comparing the average female with the average transgender female/non-binary person who was assigned male at birth (whether with or without the involvement of testosterone suppression). This is the primary factor to be considered in an endeavor to balance fairness with inclusion," the statement said.
"Competitive fairness cannot be reconciled with self-identification into the female category in a gender-affected sport such as swimming. The average differences in strength, stamina, and physique between the sexes is significant," the coaches point out.
"Transgender females are, on average, likely to retain physical advantages listed above even if testosterone suppression is utilized; Categorization by sex is lawful, and hence the requirement to request information relating to birth sex is appropriate," the statement said.
The coaches association points out that "inclusion" and "fairness" cannot co-exist under the current guidelines.
"For the sport of swimming, the inclusion of transgender people on the grounds of fairness cannot co-exist in the current competitive model. Swimming should choose to offer competition in which the female category is protected for reasons of competitive fairness," the statement continued.
The coaches association suggested a solution – a Trans Division.
"One such solution is to create a Trans Division. The Trans Females will race each other. The Trans Males will race each other. There is an argument that the Trans Males have been completely lost in this debate because they are uncompetitive in our current structure. This would also allow those of indeterminate gender to be factored into such a solution," the statement said.
As CBN News previously reported, some major sports stars have also spoken out on the issue citing fairness, including legendary NFL Quarterback Brett Farve, former California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner — the former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner who is now transgender and identifies as female — and nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova.
One USA Swimming official, Cynthia Millen, decided in late 2021 to resign in protest after more than 30 years in the field. Millen took issue with the rules at the NCAA and USA Swimming that allowed Lia Thomas to compete against biological females.
"I thought, 'This is wrong. This betrays all of this fairness,'" she told CBN News. "I mean, if a swimmer was wearing an illegal swimsuit we would tell the swimmer 'go change your swimsuit. That's not the right fabric. It's giving you an advantage.'"
As CBN's Faithwire has reported, others, too, have raised their voices.
Among the complainants is the group Concerned Women for America, which filed legal paperwork with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights against UPenn, claiming that permitting Thomas to compete on the women's team violates Title IX.
"We plead for you to issue clear, decisive guidance to clarify the law and prevent colleges and university athletic programs from violating women's rights by allowing biological male athletes to compete in the women's category of sport," stated the court filing. "Protecting all female student-athletes from this type of injustice is the very essence of OCR's mission to ensure equal access to educational opportunities and benefits the law requires under Title IX."
The American Principles Project, a conservative think tank, also spoke out against Thomas dominating the women's competition.
"Lia Thomas spent 21 years of his life as a man," tweeted the group. "He started competing against women in swimming this year and became a national champion. Our daughter's sports are not a plan B for failed male athletes."
Over the last two years, 18 states have passed laws preventing transgender athletes or biological boys and men from being on sports teams for females.