Lia Thomas, a swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania who made history by being the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national title, has been denied the title of NCAA Woman of the Year for 2022. Sylvie Binder, a fencer for Columbia University, was chosen to move on as the Ivy League conference champion. 

In the past, the University of Pennsylvania faced criticism for proposing Thomas for the award. Eligible schools were allowed to nominate two female athletes tops. There was a total of 577 nominees for the 2022 award.

Binder, one of eight athletes selected from the Ivy League conference, won the NCAA Women’s Foil Championship in 2019. With an overall record of 17-6 this season, she finished third at the NCAA Championships and was given the 2022 Women’s Connie S. Maniatty Award as Columbia’s finest senior student-athlete.

Thomas caused controversy despite the fact that she proved to be a great athlete able to break school, pool, and Ivy League records. Thomas was ranked 462 as a male swimmer after competing for three years on the men’s squad, but after being permitted to join the women’s team, he jumped up to the number one position.

The controversial swimmer finished 5th in the 200 freestyle and 8th in the 100 freestyle at the NCAA swimming and diving championships a few months ago, but she won the 500 freestyle event.

Thomas was criticized for having an unfair biological edge resulting from years of competing as a male. Parents from Penn Swim wrote to the NCAA to request that Thomas be disqualified from women’s competitions.

“At stake here is the integrity of women’s sports,” the parents’ letter said. “The precedent being set—one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete—is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA’s commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes?”

During her interview with ESPN, Thomas said that “trans women are women” however they are biological males.

“It’s no different than a cis woman taking a spot on a travel team or a scholarship,” Thomas noted. “It’s a part of athletics, where people are competing against each other. It’s not taking away opportunities from cis women, really. Trans women are women, so it’s still a woman who is getting that scholarship or that opportunity.”

However, more and more people are speaking out against biological males competing against women. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova shredded biological male Lia Thomas being nominated for ‘Woman of the Year.’

Martina Navratilova took to Twitter to express the sentiments we’ve all thinking when it comes to biological men competing in women’s sports, following the NCAA announcement that transgender swimmer Lia Thomas was nominated for the 2022 “Woman of the Year” award by the University of Pennsylvania.

The nine-time singles Wimbledon champion tweeted: “Not enough fabulous biological women athletes, NCAA?!? What is wrong with you?!!!!!!!?”

UPenn nominated Thomas, who is a biological male who in 2017 ranked as the 462nd-best male swimmer on the school’s men’s team, for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s 2022 “Woman of the Year” award. In 2020, after transitioning, Thomas joined the women’s team, and almost immediately became the No. 1 ranked female collegiate swimmer in the country.

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