2022 – Leah Thomas: Transgender swimmer says: “Transgender women are not a threat to women’s sports”

Speaking to ABC’s Juju Chang, Thomas said, “Trans people don’t do athletics. We turn into being happy, authentic, and being our true selves.”

Thomas has recently been the face of the controversy over transgender women in sports. In 2017, she entered the University of Pennsylvania and joined the men’s swimming team, but during her early years in college, Thomas became increasingly depressed.

The move came at a high cost and jeopardized her swimming career.

“It’s part of what kept me from making the switch for so long,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t sure if I could continue to swim and do the sports I love.”

Despite this, she started Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in 2019, in her second year.

“The mental and emotional changes really happened very quickly,” she said. β€œI felt much better mentally, I was less depressed and lost muscle mass. I became a lot weaker and a lot slower in the water.”

As per NCAA protocols, she took a year off from swimming and joined the UPenn Women’s Team in 2020.

β€œI knew there would be a review against me if I participated as a woman. I was ready for it.” “But I also don’t need anyone’s permission to be myself and do the sports I love.”

β€œThere are a lot of factors that go into racing,” Thomas said, but the biggest difference now is that she is happy.

“It allows me to put everything into training and racing,” she said.

In March, Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle.

Now that she’s finished college, she has her eye on something bigger.

“It’s been my goal for a long time to swim in just one Olympic trial, and I’d love to do that,” she said.

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