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Tipsheet

USA Swimming Unveils New Transgender Policy

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

USA Swimming announced a new policy this week establishing criteria for athletes who want to compete on a swim team that is opposite their biological sex. Specifically, the policy targets swimmers born biologically male who want to compete on a women’s swim team at the elite level. This policy comes after a swimmer at University of Pennsylvania, William “Lia” Thomas, who is a biological male, won races and broke records after competing against biological female swimmers.

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According to The Washington Post, effective immediately, “to determine a transgender swimmer’s eligibility at the elite level, a three-person panel of independent medical experts will determine whether the swimmer’s prior physical development as a man gives the athlete a competitive advantage over her cisgender female competitors.”

The new policy requires that the swimmer must show a concentration of testosterone in their blood that is less than 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for at least 36 months. However, the policy does not impact all age groups and does not affect non-elite levels of swim competition.

“At the non-elite level, an inclusive process has been established by which an athlete can elect to change their competition category in order for them to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression. At the elite level, a policy has been created for transgender athlete participation in the U.S. that relies on science and medical evidence-based methods to provide a level-playing field for elite cisgender women, and to mitigate the advantages associated with male puberty and physiology,” a statement from USA Swimming issued Tuesday read.

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The Post added that the policy only affects elite swimming in the 13-14 age group and older and those who wish to set American swimming records.

Last month, as I covered, one of Thomas’ female teammates, who spoke to The Washington Examiner on the condition of anonymity, told the outlet that “Lia was not even close to being competitive as a man in the 50 and the 100 (freestyle events),” but “because Lia is biologically a man, [Lia] is just naturally better than many females in the 50 and the 100 or anything that [Lia] wasn’t good at as a man.” 

The Examiner’s interview was published shortly after Thomas competed against biological females and won two races against Harvard University. However, as I covered, Thomas was “crushed” in two races earlier last month by a Yale University swimmer who is a biological female transitioning to male.

Late last year, Thomas made headlines after breaking two national women’s records at a competition in Ohio. In the 1,650-yard freestyle, the runner-up finished 38 seconds behind Thomas. 

In a separate interview with the Examiner, a female UPenn swimmer spoke on the condition of anonymity where she claimed Thomas  “compares herself to Jackie Robinson” and “mocks” competing on the women’s team, which I reported.

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“All she does is make comments to people like, ‘At least I’m still No. 1 in the country,’ and those kinds of cocky things,” the female swimmer said in the interview.

“It’s been super draining and frustrating,” she added, "because no one seems to care about the actual women.”

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