Trans swimmer Lia Thomas has been nominated for Woman of the Year at the National Collegiate Atletic Association (NCAA). Thomas, who finished first in the women’s 500-yard freestyle and recorded the fastest time of the NCAA season, has drawn considerable attention from those who questioned whether a trans athlete should be allowed to compete with biological women.
- There’s no denying Thomas’s athletic skill. Last season, she set several new records in the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle races as winning the 100-yard, 200-yard, and 500-yard freestyle races at the Ivy League women’s championships. She even became the first trans athlete to win the NCAA Division I title. In other words, she’s pretty impressive in the pool.
- Her wins haven’t been without controversy. In fact, there’s been an intense debate with critics claiming she shouldn’t be allowed to compete against biological women. While laws came into place which barred the inclusion of trans women in elite events, recognition by the NCAA of Thomas in the Woman of the Year competition shows they respect her as a female athlete.
- Lia Thomas is up against quite a few other women. The NCAA Woman of the Year panel chooses 30 different female athletes to honor before whittling those down to nine finalists, with three nominees from each NCAA division. From those nine, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics picks a winner to be announced in January 2023.
- The Woman of the Year Award has been going for more than 30 years. The award honors “female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers.” Lia Thomas was nominated in Division I for Swimming and Diving by the University of Pennsylvania, where she’s a student.