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Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas seeks CAS ruling to allow her to compete

Lia Thomas (photo: <a href="">Jack Spitser)</a>

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is pursuing legal action to challenge a policy preventing her from competing in women’s races at elite competitions. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) revealed that Thomas is contesting the gender inclusion policy implemented by the international swimming federation, World Aquatics, in 2022. This policy effectively barred transgender competitors from participating in both men’s and women’s races at high-profile events like the Olympic Games or world championships. Thomas argues that the policy is discriminatory and infringes upon various regulations and conventions, including the Olympic Charter and Swiss law.

In a news release, CAS acknowledged Thomas’s acceptance of fair competition as a legitimate sporting objective. However, she contends that the challenged provisions are invalid and unlawful as they discriminate against her. The ongoing case, initiated in September, has not yet been assigned a hearing date. If CAS rules in Thomas’s favor, it could have significant implications for transgender sports participation policies across various disciplines, including track and field and cycling.

Thomas, 25, made history as the first openly transgender athlete to secure an NCAA championship at the Division I level. She won the 500-yard freestyle at the 2022 NCAA women’s swimming and diving championships while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas emphasized that her transition was not aimed at winning races but at finding personal happiness. The outcome of this case may influence debates surrounding transgender athletes’ eligibility and inclusivity in competitive sports.

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