ABC’s ‘Good Morning America” program provided a forum for trans swimmer Lia Thomas to hit back at her critics this week in which she singled out people who support transgender females but not when it comes to them competing in sporting events reserved only for biological women.
Fox News reported:
GMA’s sympathetic sit down between journalist Juju Chang and Thomas began with a recap on the biological male “making history in March as the first known transgender athlete to win a Division 1 national title.”
The segment launched into the controversy surrounding her win, Chang reported, “But her athletic achievements on the women’s swim team igniting fierce debate over fairness in women’s sports.”
The interview briefly showed former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner as well as LGBTQ activist and former tennis great Martina Navritilova speaking out against Thomas, with both saying her win is “not fair.”
That lead-in set up Thomas to lash out at the responses, with the collegiate swimmer telling Chang, “I knew there would be scrutiny against me if I competed as a woman. I was prepared for that, but I also don’t need anybody’s permission to be myself and to do the sport that I love.”
During the interview, GMA recounted Thomas’ time growing up after being born a biological male and recounted her early love of the sport as well as struggles with so-called ‘gender dysphoria.’
“Assigned male at birth,” Chang stated — as if to indicate that there would have been a choice in the matter — “Thomas grew up in Austin, Texas, where she says she fell in love with swimming when she was just 4. But as she grew, she says she felt increasingly disconnected to her body.”
Thomas added: “I didn’t feel like I was a boy. I was like, ‘This isn’t me, this isn’t who I am.’”
“Thomas earned a spot at her Ivy League dream school, UPenn, on the men’s team, but by her sophomore year, she says her gender dysphoria left her depressed and suicidal,” Chang continued. Thomas then added that she was “barely going to classes, I could barely get out of bed, and I said, ‘I can’t live like this anymore. I want to be able to do things I enjoy.’”
The interview then waded into the swimmer’s medical transition.
“Thomas began HRT, hormone replacement therapy, in May of her sophomore year, 2019,” Chang noted, giving Thomas the opportunity to clarify that the process was undertaken for the sake of her happiness, not for a competitive advantage.
“The mental and emotional changes happened very quickly. I was feeling a lot better mentally. I was less depressed, and I lost muscle mass and I became a lot weaker and a lot slower in the water,” Thomas explained.
But that obviously didn’t impact her ability to compete against biological females.
Chang moved on to when Thomas met the NCAA guidelines to allow her to compete as a woman.
“After following NCAA guidelines of a year of hormone therapy to change gender categories, Thomas started her senior year on the women’s team. But her success in the water was met with outrage leading up to the NCAA championships,” she reported.
Chang also noted claims by critics that she “jumped in rankings between the men’s and women’s team” before asking Thomas what she would like to say to those who claim she has a “competitive advantage.”
“Trans people don’t transition for athletics,” Thomas said. “We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves. Transitioning to get an advantage is not something that ever factors into our decisions.”
In an attempt to sound provocative, Chang asked, “You didn’t transition to win more medals?” Thomas responded, “No.”
The correspondent then asked Thomas to respond to criticism from team members and their parents about having an unfair competitive advantage.
You can’t go halfway and be like, ‘I support trans women and trans people, but only to a certain point,’ where if you support trans women as women, and 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 declared.
In another segment, Chang interviewed Dr. Michael Joyner, a physiologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic, who disagreed with Thomas.
“Are you saying that years of hormone therapy cannot put trans women in a place to compete with cisgendered women?” He said, “I think the evidence so far would suggest a period of two years, three years, four years is probably insufficient.”
Chang gave Thomas the last word, asking, “There is this concept of the legacy effects of testosterone, and that that can’t ever be zero. Should that eliminate or disqualify transgender women?”
She said: “I’m not a medical expert, but there is a lot of variation among cis female athletes. There’s cis women who are very tall and very muscular and have more testosterone than another cis-woman, and should that then also disqualify them?”