Swimmer Lia Thomas latest target in 'culture war' on trans athletes, critics say_freckle removal device

Swimmer Lia Thomas latest target in 'culture war' on trans athletes, critics sayLast month, swimmer Lia Thomas, who won the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 500-yard freestyle, became the latest transgender athlete to face backlash for her athletic performance. The University of Pennsylvania senior is the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA swimming championship.

Social Sharing

Slew of bills targetting LGBTQ community going through U.S. legislatures this year

CBC Radio(John Bazemore/The Associated Press)8:38How Lia Thomas became a political target in the debate over transgender athletes

When transgender athletes win, they make headlines — but when they lose, it goes largely unnoticed. 

That imbalance can perpetuate the idea that trans women athletes have an unfair advantage, according to Michele K. Donnelly, a sports management professor at Brock University.

She recalls speculation and scrunity that Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand and the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Tokyo Games, would "clean the floor" of women weightlifters. But when Hubbard failed to medal, little more was heard of her, she said.

"It skews the story…. The fact that our attention is drawn in these very small number of cases where trans women are being very successful in women's sport," Donnelly said.

Last month, swimmer Lia Thomas, who won the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 500-yard freestyle, became the latest transgender athlete to face backlash for her athletic performance. The University of Pennsylvania senior is the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA swimming championship. 

Calling Thomas's participation "a fraud," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation declaring Emma Weyant, who placed second, as the winner. 

WATCH | New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard first transgender athlete to compete at Olympics

Weightlifter will be 1st transgender athlete to compete at Olympics

10 months agoDuration 1:59New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics, but her historic achievement comes with controversy.(John Bazemore/The Associated Press)

Part of the backlash against trans women athletes stems from the belief that men are inherently better athletically than women, said Travers, a sociology professor at Simon Fraser University whose research largely focuses on LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

"The assumption that somebody assigned male at birth is always going to be a better athlete is based on that assumption," said Travers, who goes by one name. 

"In fact there's incredible overlaps in performance, but these are rendered invisible."

Despite her success at the NCAA, Thomas is not "dominant" in the sport compared to fellow swimmer Katie Ledecky, said Travers.

Ledecky, a highly-decorated American Olympic swimmer, still holds multiple NCAA records. Her record in the 500-yard free swim is just over eight seconds faster than Thomas's at 4:25:15.

We show a distinct lack of imagination when we claim that we can't imagine any other way of organizing support that could be fair or could be meaningful to the participants.- Michele K. Donnelly, Brock University sports management professor

Inclusion policies reworked

Experts say that because federal legislation restricts discrimination based on gender identity, it's less likely that governments will implement laws banning trans athletes from sports in Canada.

Several Canadian sports organizations have developed policies inclusive of trans women athletes and in 2016, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport released guidance that aims to foster inclusivity in sports.

In its Trans Inclusion Policy, for example, Softball Canada states that players do not need to undergo hormone therapy or disclose their transgender identity in order to play. 

Late last year, the IOC updated its framework for eligibility of trans athletes, first introduced in 2004, to be more inclusive. 

The framework calls on individual sporting bodies to set rules that are equal and fair based on performance, while calling for decisions to be made on "robust evidence." The revised framework also aims to preserve a person's bodily autonomy by discouraging the use of medically-unnecessary treatments or invasive examinations.

WATCH | Balancing fairness and human rights at the Olympics:

The debate on transgender athletes in the Olympics

9 months agoDuration 2:33Laurel Hubbard is the first transgender woman to ever compete at the Olympics, and her participation has sparked a conversation about balancing human rights with fairness.Canada's Quinn to become 1st openly transgender, non-binary athlete to win Olympic medal

(editor:)

HOT
NEW
top 10
Link