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Tuesday Morning, Good Morning America on ABC Have an exclusive interview With transgender swimmer and NCAA Women’s Swimming Champion Leah Thomas, giving her the opportunity to break her silence and respond to those who say her victory threatens women’s sports.
The empathetic GMA session between journalist Juju Chang and Thomas began with a summary of the biological male “who made history in March as the first known transgender athlete to win a top-flight title”.
The segment was launched in The controversy over her victory“Her athletic achievements on the women’s swimming team have sparked a fierce debate about fairness in women’s sports,” Zhang stated.
The interview briefly featured former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner as well as LGBTQ activist and former tennis great Martina Navritilova. speak against thomasBoth said her victory was “not fair”.
The ABC host directed Thomas to respond to those responses. The college swimmer told the interviewer, “I knew there would be scrutiny against me if I competed as a woman. I was ready for that, but I also didn’t need anyone’s permission to be myself and play the sport I love.”
The interview outlined the time Thomas was growing up and spoke about her early love of swimming as well as her early struggles with gender dysphoria.
“Thomas was named male at birth, and she grew up in Austin, Texas, where she says she fell in love with swimming when she was just four years old, but as she grew, she said she felt increasingly detached from her body,” Chang stated.
Thomas added, “I didn’t feel like a boy. I was like, ‘This is not me, this is not who I am.'”
“Thomas landed a place at Ivy League dream school, UPenn, on the men’s team, but by her sophomore year, she says her dysarthria with her type left her depressed and suicidal,” Zhang continued. The swimmer added that she was “barely going to classes, I can barely get out of bed, and I said, ‘I can’t live like this anymore. I want to be able to do things that I enjoy. “
The interview discussed Thomas’s medical transformation. “Thomas started HRT in May of her second year of 2019,” Chang stated, and allowed the swimmer to explain that the process was done for her pleasure and not for competitive advantage.
“The mental and emotional changes happened very quickly,” Thomas explained. “I was feeling a lot better mentally. I was less depressed, lost muscle mass and got a lot weaker and a lot slower in the water.”
Chang then spoke about the time Thomas met with NCAA guidelines to allow her to compete as a woman. “After following NCAA guidelines for a year of hormone therapy to change gender categories, Thomas started her first year on the women’s team. But her success in the water was met with outrage that led to the NCAA Championship.”
Zhang also referred to critics’ claims that she “jumped up the rankings between the men’s and women’s team,” and asked the swimmer what she says to those who claim she has a “competitive advantage.”
“Trans people don’t move into athletics,” Thomas said. “We move on to be happy, authentic, and our true selves. Moving to gain an advantage is not something that influences our decisions.”
Somewhat provocative, Zhang asked, “Why did you move on to win more medals?” Thomas replied, “No.”
After referring to Thomas as the “lightning rod” for this controversy, the host invited Thomas to respond to him Teammates and their parents messages “On the pretext that Thomas posed a threat to women’s sports.” Thomas replied, “You can’t go halfway and be like, ‘I support trans women and trans people, but only to a certain point,’ where if you support trans women as women, and they meet all of the NCAA requirements, then I don’t know if you can really to say something like that.”
Thomas declared that “trans women do not pose a threat to women’s sports.”
In a somewhat balanced portion of the clip, Chang spoke to a doctor about whether Thomas had any physical advantage from most of her life as an unchanged male.
I asked Dr. Michael Joyner, a physiologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic, “Would you say that years of hormone therapy can’t put transgender women in a position to compete with transgender women?” He replied, “I think the evidence so far suggests that two, three and four years may not be enough.”
Although Chang allowed Thomas the final word in the discussion, asking, “There’s this concept of the ancient effects of testosterone, and that can’t be zero. Should that eliminate or exclude transgender women?”
Thomas added, “I’m not a medical expert, but there is a lot of difference between female athletes from cis. There are cis women who are very tall, muscular and have more testosterone than other cis women, and that should also rule out them ?”
The interview then ended with Zhang asking if Thomas would compete in the Olympics‘I’d like to see it through,’ she replied.