I like to think that we live in a world where there is hope.
In a world where there is so much bad going on, I feel as though there is an equal amount of good that creates a balance, a duality to everything. There are two pulls to a magnet, every action has an equal or opposite reaction and there are two sides to every argument.
Being able to be who you are freely is a human right, and unfortunately so many people still need to make fights every day just to prove themselves to the world around them. Being trans and living in America is hard. It’s scary, and you never know who you might offend or who might offend you. Slowly but surely the inclusion of transgender people is becoming more prevelant in America, but with every person that is an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, there is another person against it.
The fight for transgender exclusion is still offensively blatant. Trans representation is lacking, and every time you do hear about transgender people making headlines it is always followed with hate and backlash. In just 2020 alone, there were legislators in 20 different states introducing bills excluding transgender and gender non confoming people from participating in sports. More recently, the conversation of whether trans athletes should be allowed to compete in sports has been brought back to light because of University of Pennsylvania’s top athlete Lia Thomas, a transgender woman on UPenn’s swim team.
Thomas has proven to be an incredible athlete. She has won multiple records, excelling in areas like the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle events, and she almost qualified for the 2020 Olympic trials. Her transition from male to female reached a lot of media coverage not only because of her impressive swimming abilities, but unfortunately due to all of the push back she has been receiving from not only spectators but also some fellow teammates.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she explains to them that she has always viewed herself as “just a swimmer,” Thomas said. “It’s what I’ve done for so long. It’s what I love. I get into the water everyday and do my best.”
Is it fair we’re only hearing her story because of poor judgements and not simply because she is a fantastic athlete? Whenever we identify people as transgender, their acomplishments get deminished and everything that they do gets picked apart. So many people trying to police and compartmentalize what “womanhood” or “manhood” looks like.
The take away from Thomas’ competition record is not her gender, but her talent. She won first at the NCAA D1 college swimming championships, but her gender was the only thing discussed. She did not dominate unfairly over her competition. Out of 18 events, she placed first in one, and top eight in only two others. She did not break any records.
Her win has been turned into an unnecessary debate where the actual facts from the race are being ignored. Congratulations to Thomas and the other women who swam.