On Thursday night, William "Lia" Thomas, a biological male who competes on the women's swimming team at the University of Pennsylvania was lauded 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.
Arguably the most positive coverage came from Katie Barnes with ESPN and her headline of how "Amid protests, Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas becomes first known transgender athlete to win Division I national championship."
As Barnes mentioned:
ATLANTA -- Lia Thomas is a national champion.
Thomas, who is a transgender woman, touched the wall in 4 minutes, 33.24 seconds in the 500-yard freestyle on Thursday night to become the first known transgender athlete to win a Division I national championship in any sport.
"It means the world to be here," Thomas said in an interview after the race.
Thomas, however, declined to attend the NCAA-required postrace news conference.
As she stood on the podium with her trophy, she flashed a peace sign, just as she did for her four Ivy League championships. And once again, the crowd was noticeably quiet as she was announced as the champion.
"It's a symbol of Lia's resilience," Schuyler Bailar, who at Harvard became the first known transgender man to compete on a Division I men's team, told ESPN. "The fact that she's able to show up here, despite protesters outside, people shouting and booing her, I think it's a testament to her resiliency. And it's also a symbol that we can both be who we are and do what we love."
Even such reports could not help acknowledging those who are calling for protecting women's sports, with Barnes mentioning how Save Women's Sports founder Beth Stelzer draped a banner with such a phrase over the railing during the race, though she was asked to take it down.
Her name is Beth Stelzer, and she isn't an "anti-Lia Thomas protester". She's a pro-women's sports activist.— ??Jennifer Gingrich #KeepPrisonsSingleSex (@fem_mb) March 18, 2022
See how your biased language is framing this debate against women?
Raise up and support new leaders like @BethSteltzer photographed here of @SaveWomensSport— Sarah Fort (@fort_sarah) March 17, 2022
Hold to account those cowards who were willing to allow men to destroy womens sports after only 40 odd years of having them.#NZCheatsAtSports https://t.co/4bHF7v9CWU
The Twitter account for ave Women's Sports also streamed their presence live at the event.
Live from the NCAA swimming championships https://t.co/vLyRYqM3or— Save Women's Sports (@SaveWomensSport) March 17, 2022
Others also wished to place emphasis on the woman who finished 1.75 seconds behind Thomas. Emma Weyant, who is a freshman at the University of Virginia, won a silver medalist in the 400 IM at the Tokyo Summer Olympics that were ultimately held in 2021.
y’all know emma weyant had the silver medal in the 400IM at the toyko olympics, right?— kaitlin (@thefactualprep) March 17, 2022
we don’t have to pretend this is right. https://t.co/88pOfLBXps
Here’s the name you should remember and lobby for: Emma Weyant. She’s at UVA. She finished second place, but would have been first place if people had the courage to speak up about the injustice of a MAN competing against women.— Erik Reed (@ErikReed) March 18, 2022
Weyant’s time was a career best. #TheRealChamp https://t.co/wrsS7Ocf75
As Madeline covered earlier on Thursday, as part of her continuous coverage of Thomas, Concerned Women for America filed a filed a formal Civil Rights Complaint under Title IX with the U.S. Department of Education against the University of Pennsylvania, where Thomas competes on the women's swim team.