University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who is a biological male who identifies as transgender and competes on the women's swim team, has been deemed eligible to compete in this month's Ivy League Championship. This after new NCAA rules stated that the changes, outside of March's NCAA Championships, would not take effect until the 2022 winter swimming season. If they were to come into effect prior to the Ivy League Championships, Thomas would not be eligible.
"The recent rule changes do not impact Lia's eligibility for this month's Ivy League Women's Swimming & Diving Championships as the effective date for this unprecedented midseason NCAA policy change begins with the 2022 NCAA Winter Championships," an Ivy League spokesperson said in an email to Swimming World.
Thomas' eligibility to compete was called into question after the USA Swimming announced a new policy earlier this month relating to transgender athletes.
The USA Swimming Athlete Inclusion, Competitive Equity and Eligibility Policy states that potential competitors must show "evidence that the concentration of testosterone in the athlete's serum has been less than 5 nmol/L (as measured by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry) continuously for a period of at least thirty-six (36) months before the date of application."
The NCAA announced last month that they would adhere to USA Swimming guidelines.
Thomas did not start transitioning until May of 2019, thus potentially making her ineligible for competing in the NCAA Championship next month.
Thomas, who has shattered a number of records and won races by staggering lengths, may be able to compete though, with the NCAA stating in a January 20 release that it recommends "flexibility to allow for additional eligibility if a transgender student-athlete loses eligibility based on the policy change provided they meet the newly adopted standards," according to Swimming World.
The Ive League Championship is scheduled to take place on February 16-19 at Harvard University.
In an interview with Fox News last month, Caitlyn Jenner, who won the gold in decathlon in the 1976 Olympics and transitioned in 2015, denounced the idea of Thomas competing against biological women.
"I’ve said from the beginning, biological boys should not be playing in women's sports," Jenner said. "We need to protect women's sports."
"[Lia Thomas] is also not good for women's sports. It's unfortunate that this is happening. I don't know why she's doing it. She knows when she's swimming she's beating the competition by two laps. She was born as a biological boy. She was raised as a biological boy. Her cardiovascular system is bigger. Her respiratory system is bigger."
"Her hands are bigger. She can swim faster. That's a known. All of this is woke world that we're living in right now is not working. I feel sorry for the other athletes that are out there, especially at Penn or anyone she’s competing against, because in the woke world you have to say, 'Oh my gosh, this is great.' No it's not," Jenner added.