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Tipsheet

Lia Thomas’ Participation at NCAA Championships Draws Protesters

AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

Women’s rights groups showed up to the NCAA women’s swimming championships Thursday to protest William “Lia” Thomas, a biological male swimmer who is competing as a woman. Thomas made headlines Thursday after winning a race against other female swimmers and becoming “the first known transgender athlete to win a Division I national championship in any sport,” according to ESPN.

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As Rebecca covered Thursday, Thomas was praised by the mainstream media for winning an NCAA Division I title after finishing first in the women's 500-yard freestyle event on Thursday evening that took place in Atlanta. Thomas finished the race in 4 minutes, 33.24.

As Rebecca noted in her report, Save Women’s Sports founder Beth Stelzer draped a banner with such a phrase during Thomas’ race. Reportedly, she was asked by staff to take it down. 

Stelzer also snapped a photo of Thomas behind-the-scenes, with the caption “Thomas, your real competition is not in the pool.”

But, Stelzer was not the only one to protest Thomas’ participation in the NCAA championships, where Thomas competed against biological women and won.

In an interview with Fox News, Kellie-Jay Keen, head of the organization Standing for Women, said “women aren’t considered full humans” if biological men are allowed to compete in women’s sports.

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“There’s a man, called Will Thomas, who’s changed his name to Lia Thomas, who is competing in women’s swimming,” Keen told Fox News outside of the Georgia Tech athletic center, where the races were hosted. 

"Women aren't considered full humans," Keen added. "We can't be – otherwise there wouldn't be an opportunity for men to compete in women's sports." 

Other protesters from Save Women’s Sports assembled outside of the venue. 

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Annabelle Rutledge, the director of Concerned Women for America (CWA) told Fox News that Thomas “is a male displacing women.”

"The female who came in second today is the real winner,” she continued. "Only women can win a women's swimming and diving championship.”

As I covered Thursday, CWA filed a Civil Rights Complaint under Title IX against University of Pennsylvania for allowing Thomas to compete on the women’s swim team. 

In a press release from CWA, it explains how Thomas holds an “unfair advantage” over biological female student-athletes, as well as creates a “hostile environment” in the locker room, which Matt covered.

“Thomas is anatomically and biologically a male with physical capacities that are different from anatomically and biologically female athletes, which extends an unfair advantage and strips female student-athletes of opportunities afforded to them by law,” the press release continued. “The complaint also cites reports that Thomas’ own teammates have complained about UPenn allowing a hostile environment to fester in its locker room which has put them in apprehension.”

“The future of women’s sports is at risk and the equal rights of female athletes are being infringed,” said Penny Nance, CEO and President of CWA said in the press release. “We filed a formal civil rights complaint against UPenn in response to this injustice.

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“Any school that defies federal civil rights law by denying women equal opportunities in athletic programs, forcing women to compete against athletes who are biologically male must be held accountable.”

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