Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male, is a candidate for the NCAA’s 2022 “Woman of the Year” award – and current and former female athletes are blasting the nomination.
“Not enough fabulous biological women athletes, NCAA?!? What is wrong with you?!!!!!!!?” legendary women’s tennis star Martina Navratilova tweeted, in response Thomas’ nomination.
The University of Pennsylvania nominated Thomas for the award after she recently became the first transgender athlete to win Ivy League and NCAA swimming titles.
Thomas’ success in women’s swimming – after a mediocre career in men’s swimming prior to transitioning – has created a fierce national debate over fairness in women’s sports, with critics pointing out the unfair advantages biological males have, even after transitioning.
In March, Navratilova called NCAA rules allowing trans women to compete unfair, adding that Thomas should have an asterisk by her name when she wins women’s races.
Navratilova leads a growing list of female athletes sounding off against the nomination.
Riley Gaines, the University of Kentucky’s nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year, called Thomas’ nomination a “slap in the face to women” on Twitter.
Gaines and Thomas famously tied for fifth place in the women’s 200-meter NCAA championships in March. With only one trophy for fifth, organizers told Gaines the trophy would be given to Thomas and a second trophy mailed at a later date.
“[T]his is yet another slap in the face to women. First a female national title and now nominated for the pinnacle award in collegiate athletics. The NCAA has made this award worthless,” Gaines’ tweet read.
Kim Jones, a former All-American tennis player whose daughter competed against Thomas, called the nomination “humiliating” and “devastating” and questioned whether the school believes “women don’t matter.”
“[The message is] they’re not even worthy of dignity and comfort in their locker rooms,” Jones said. “And this nomination is just the embodiment of that message. It’s really frustrating to understand where the current NCAA and Ivy League and especially Penn’s stance is on the value of women in modern society.”
Jones argued that female college athletes spend countless hours training, and all of that effort is “dismissed” when biological males with unfair physical advantages are allowed to compete against them.
“That’s what all that effort, all those hours, all that hard work and the journey that was supposed to be so empowering and fulfilling has been reduced to – something that people think is a sideshow. It’s really frustrating,” she lamented.
Shortly after news of Thomas’ nomination, Reuters reported that a federal judge blocked a Biden administration directive that would have allowed transgender athletes to join sports teams corresponding with their chosen genders, as well as allow transgender workers and students to use school restrooms matching their gender identities.
The directive was blocked by Judge Charles Atchley Jr. of the Eastern District of Tennessee after 20 Republican attorneys general sued last year, Reuters reported.
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, who was among the plaintiffs, called the judge’s decision “a major victory for women’s sports and for the privacy and safety of girls and women in their school bathrooms and locker rooms.”