Thomas, 22, appeared on Good Morning America on Tuesday morning
It is her first TV interview since she stormed the female college swimming leagues in 2021
She insisted she did not transition to win more medals and said she is finally happy
Lia’s place in the sport has been widely debated by trans activists and sports experts
Physiologist Ross Tucker says Thomas still has an advantage despite taking hormone suppressant therapy
The NCAA allowed Lia to compete this year as a woman but it’s unclear what they will do when the next season begins in September with other girls
She has now graduated from UPenn, the college she swam for
Other pro tennis players including trans player Renee Richards and Martina Navratilova say it is unfair
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas said on Tuesday that she should be allowed to compete as a woman despite having a physical advantage and that she ‘doesn’t need permission’ from anyone.
The 22-year-old broke her silence on Good Morning America on Tuesday where she also revealed hopes to compete for America in the Olympics.
It comes after a wave of doctors suggested she – and other trans female athletes – will always have an unfair advantage in some sports because they cannot undo puberty, when their biological male bodies were flooded with testosterone.
Speaking on Tuesday, Lia admitted she is ‘no medical expert’ but she said some cisgender females have more testosterone, bigger hands and feet and are taller than their competitors – so why should she banned when they aren’t.
‘I don’t need anybody’s permission to be myself,’ she said.
She also said anyone who says she isn’t allowed to compete as a woman is transphobic, regardless of whether or not they support her right to transition.
‘You can’t go halfway and be like “I support trans people but only to a certain point.”
‘If you support transwomen and they’ve met all the N.C.A.A. requirements, I don’t know if you can say something like that.
‘Trans women are not a threat to women’s sport,’ she said.
She dismissed the controversy surrounding her place in the women’s category, saying she is now happy.
‘There’s a lot of factors that go into a race and how well you do. The biggest change for me is that I’m happy and sophomore year where I had my best times competing with men, I was miserable.
‘Having that be lifted is incredibly relieving and allows me to put my all into training and racing.’ She insisted that she did not transition to perform better in the league tables, explaining: ‘Trans people don’t transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and to be ourselves.
‘Transition to get an advantage is not something that factors into our decisions,’ she said.
She also said she was prepared to give up her swimming career in order to transition and wasn’t sure she would be allowed to compete as a woman.
When she started taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), she said she immediately became slower in the water.
‘I’m not a medical expert but there’s a lot of variation among cis female athletes. There are cis women who are tall muscular and have more testosterone. Should that also disqualify them?’
Doctors say that Lia does have an unfair advantage that cannot be reversed because she went through puberty before she started taking hormones to become female.
While the hormones reduced her levels of testosterone, some experts say a year or even four years of the therapy is not enough to reverse what happens to the male teenage body.
‘There are social aspects to sport, but physiology and biology underpin it. Testosterone is the 800-pound gorilla,’ Michael J. Joyner, the Mayo Clinic doctor, said yesterday in an interview with The New York Times.
He added on Tuesday on Good Morning America: ‘Body size, hand size, foot size, bone density [are all factors] but the main thing is the interactions of exercise training and muscle.
‘I think that evidence so far would suggest a period of a year, two, three or even four years [of hormone therapy] is insufficient.’
Shrugging off the doctor’s comments, Lia says she hopes to compete in the Olympics.
‘It’s been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time. I would love to see that through,’ she said.