Trans swimmer Lia Thomas hits out at transphobic ‘feminists’: ‘You can’t break me down’

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has criticised people who push transphobia while also claiming to be feminists.

Appearing on the Dear Schuyler podcast, hosted by fellow trans swimmer Schuyler Bailar, Thomas spoke about her experiences as a trans woman competing in sport.

She is known for being the first trans swimmer to win a NCAA division one title, competing for the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swim team during the 2021-2022 season.

She told Bailar that she felt the support from her teammates was conflicting, with a number of them wanting to boycott events in protest of her competing.

She said it was frustrating to hear them say they respected her as a trans woman but did not think it was fair or right for her to compete.

“You can’t really have that sort of half-support where you’re like, ‘Oh, I respect you as a woman here but not here’. You can’t break me down, as a person, into little pieces.”

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It was “pretending to be supportive”, Lia Thomas added.

Bailar asked her for her views feminism, with the host saying feminism was being “twisted” to a point where it was reducing women to their “reproductive capacity”, which he thought was “extremely anti-feminist”.

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Thomas replied that feminists needed to put people’s arguments relating to transphobia in sports into wider contexts and see how it “fits into broader systems of trying to control people and control people’s bodies, and exclude anybody who doesn’t fit a certain mould”.

Going on to make it clear she did not transition to play sport, Thomas also opened up about how, for a while, she felt responsible for the wave of anti-trans rhetoric that is washing over the US.

What helped her move through those feelings was being reminded that anti-trans laws and sporting rules were because of her, Lia Thomas said.

“They were waiting for a trans woman to be successful to go on a whole tirade,” she explained.

Thomas’ year on the women’s team was subject to a lot of media attention.

After some of her teammates acted against her, more than 300 current and former NCAA, Team USA and international swimmers and divers published an open letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association in support of her.

Another group of university swimmers released their own statement supporting Thomas too.

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