Do Transgender Athletes Have An Unfair Advantage?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Florida governor Ron DeSantis is honoring the swimmer who finished second to the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 title. University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who is a transgender woman, beat Virginia freshman swimmer Emma Weyant last week. Thomas’ rise in women’s sports has sparked protests and criticism over transgender women competition in female athletics.

Governor DeSantis says Thomas’ victory is a fraud. He says, “We’re going to be doing a proclamation saying that Emma is the best female swimmer in the 500 meter freestyle, because she earned that and we need to stop allowing organizations like the NCAA to perpetuate frauds on the public.”

Thomas opened up about the attacks she’s faced while competing as a woman in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated. She told the magazine, “I’m a woman. So I belong on the women’s team. Trans people deserve the same respect every other athlete gets.”

Thomas competed for her university’s men’s team during her freshman and sophomore years. Despite her accomplishments, Thomas says she was very depressed during that time. She came out to her friends and teammates her junior year.

NCAA policy requires trans female athletes to undergo hormone replacement therapy for at least one year before they can compete on women’s teams. Thomas was finally able to join the women’s team in late 2021, but faced immediate backlash.

WCCB News Edge producer Hayley Brand spoke with Bethany Corrigan, the executive director of Transcend Charlotte. Transcend Charlotte is a local non-profit that advocates for trans equality.

They told WCCB transgender athletes have no medically supported advantage over cis athletes. They say testosterone and estrogen levels fluctuate per individual, regardless of gender identity. They say attacking trans athletes can even negatively affect cis women by perpetuating bias and discriminatory thinking that girls are lesser athletes, and men are naturally stronger.

Our question of the night: do transgender athletes have an unfair advantage?

This episode’s panel features:
WCCB TV’s Morgan Fogarty
WCCB News Edge contributor Ashley Anderson
WCCB News Edge contributor and host of Live with The QCB, Tremaine “QCB” Sloan