Transsexual American swimmer Lia Thomas has filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge the international federation's policy that has resulted in her being banned from women's competition, the CAS said on Friday.
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The panel “confirms the registration of American transgender swimmer Lia Thomas's arbitration request seeking to challenge certain parts of the World Aquatics policy regarding eligibility for men's and women's competitions,” the CAS wrote in a statement.
Lia Thomas was born male and began her transition in 2019. In March 2022, Lia Thomas became the first transgender swimmer to win a university title in the United States. Her results had caused intense controversy as her critics believed that because Lia Thomas had competed as a man in the past, she benefited from an unfair physiological advantage.
The international federation (World Aquatics) then decided to create an “open category” for transgender people in addition to the women's and men's competitions and to limit its women's categories to swimmers who became women before puberty.
“Ms Thomas recognizes that fairness is a legitimate sporting goal and that the practice of swimming by transgender women should be regulated to some extent,” the CAS press release said.
“Nevertheless, Ms. Thomas maintains that the challenged provisions are invalid and unlawful because they discriminate against her and therefore violate the Olympic Charter, the World Constitution of Aquatic Sports and Swiss law.”
“Such discrimination cannot be justified on the grounds that it is necessary, appropriate or proportionate to achieve a legitimate sporting aim,” said the 25-year-old swimmer.
The TAS specifies that no date has yet been set for the hearing.