In a groundbreaking move that’s stirring controversy, transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is embarking on a covert legal battle aimed at overturning the ban that prohibits biological males from competing against women in sports events. Thomas, 24, aspires to secure her place in the Paris Olympic trials, according to an exclusive report.
The skilled athlete has enlisted the services of the prominent Canadian law firm, Tyr, to petition the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Her mission: to challenge the regulations imposed by World Aquatics after she made history as the first openly transgender individual to clinch an NCAA Division I title, as reported by The Telegraph.
Thomas’ journey has been marked by challenges and controversies. In 2022, World Aquatics introduced new rules barring anyone who has undergone “any part of male puberty” from competing in the female category, effectively altering the landscape of transgender participation in sports. Previously, transgender women were permitted to compete provided they lowered their testosterone levels.
Tyr is renowned for its tenacity and fearless advocacy in high-stakes, precedent-setting cases. However, proceedings before the Court of Arbitration for Sport are held behind closed doors unless the parties involved opt for transparency, as per The Telegraph.
The legal battle commenced in September when Thomas took her case to the tribunal. World Aquatics swiftly attempted to have it dismissed, citing her failure to submit to the jurisdiction of USA Swimming, a contentious move according to The Telegraph. Just a month before her remarkable NCAA victory in March 2022, USA Swimming had implemented stricter regulations governing transgender athletes. Although not an outright ban, these regulations required ongoing monitoring of testosterone levels.
Reflecting on her ambitions, Thomas remarked on “Good Morning America” less than a month before World Aquatics unveiled its own policy in June 2022, saying, “It’s been a goal of mine to swim at Olympic trials for a very long time, and I would love to see that through.” However, the timing appears to be a critical factor. Thomas’ case is unlikely to reach a resolution in time for her to qualify for the upcoming summer Olympics.
The deadline for entry to the trials is June 4, necessitating a favorable outcome for Thomas several weeks earlier to enable her to submit qualifying times in May. The trials are scheduled to begin on June 15, as reported by The Times of London.
World Aquatics has chosen not to comment on the ongoing legal challenge. Brent Nowicki, the executive director, stated, “The World Aquatics policy on gender inclusion, adopted by World Aquatics in June of 2022, was rigorously developed on the basis of advice from leading medical and legal experts, and in careful consultation with athletes.” He affirmed their commitment to preserving the integrity of women’s sports.
While the specifics of Thomas’ transition remain undisclosed, she competed as a man as recently as November 2019. Thomas has consistently maintained that her transition was not driven by a desire for athletic advantage but rather a pursuit of personal happiness and authenticity.
In the midst of this legal and societal debate, Thomas’ journey continues, challenging the conventions of competitive sports. As the legal battle unfolds and the controversy surrounding transgender athletes persists, the world watches with bated breath to see what the future holds for Lia Thomas and the broader landscape of women’s sports.