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'Joke with biological women as punchline': Swimming magazine editor calls out Lia Thomas' NCAA title for what it is

The Furnace
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The world saw Lia Thomas, the onetime male swimmer for the University of Pennsylvania who now identifies as a woman, take a NCAA swimming title Thursday. The ongoing Thomas saga has been a fight between trans-activists and their acolytes on one side and protectors of women's sports, rights, and advances on the other.

One of the leading voices in defense of women swimmers has been John Lohn, editor-in-chief of Swimming World. In a piece for the magazine Thursday night, Lohn — an on-record critic of how Thomas has perverted and harmed NCAA women's swimming — called out Thomas' victory in the 500-yard women's freestyle as nothing short of a "joke."

But this joke, which had women as the "punchline," was "hardly a laughing matter."

"A joke was told in Atlanta on Thursday night," Lohn began. "It wasn’t funny."

Noting Thomas' win, Lohn continued, "Most times, a national championship should be celebrated, the athlete commended for her hard work, dedication, and discipline."

"Not this time," he added.

Instead of celebrating the trans-athlete's success in beating the competition over whom he had a clear biological-male advantage, Lohn said Thomas' win "should be met with nothing less than a head shake, an eye roll or a shrug of the shoulders."

"Why?" he asked rhetorically. "Because Lia Thomas’ victory is an insult to the biological women who raced against her. Against those who fought for Title IX and equal opportunities for female athletes. Against science, and the unmistakable physiological differences between the male and female sexes."

Lohn's criticism wasn't just for Thomas' decision to swim against girls after years of a mediocre "ho-hum" career swimming against boys.

He also offered criticism for NCAA and what he has previously called its "antiquated" guidelines:

Because the NCAA only required one year of hormone-suppressant therapy for a transgender female to compete in women’s sports, Thomas was eligible to race for the Quakers. And, to be clear, Thomas has followed all rules. The problem is that the NCAA’s guidelines were based on outdated science and didn’t account for the advantages of Thomas undergoing male puberty and significant testosterone production. A 6-3 frame. Greater natural strength. Larger hands and feet. Enhanced lung capacity. None of these edges, for the record, can be fully mitigated.

"A transgender female competing against biological females is not a fair fight," Lohn continued.

The NCAA's refusal to follow USA Swimming's rules meant that Thomas' win "was anything but honest."

And it was clear to Lohn that the NCAA, the Ivy League, and UPenn were far more concerned about one person's preferences than 50% of the population's rights:

Thomas’ story became the most hotly debated topic in the sport, and a fractured environment emerged at Penn, as team members’ allegiances were split. Some supported Thomas and her desire to live her authentic life. Others viewed the issue from another angle, which noted that unfairness was the prevailing theme. When the Ivy League and Penn told swimmers to accept the situation, it was clear that one person’s rights were valued over hundreds of others. And when the NCAA made it clear it would not protect women’s rights, it was obvious the NCAA Championships would become a circus – a combination of protestors appearing and Thomas swimming with her male-puberty-supplied jet pack.

Naturally, the trans world has gone after Lohn and Swimming World for their take on the Thomas imbroglio, calling them transphobic.

Lohn wasn't surprised.

"That strategy seems to be a go-to tactic, thanks to its biting nature," he wrote. "But this debate – once again for clarity – is about fairness, and everyone on the blocks having an equal pre-race chance. With Thomas, that has never been the case."

The NCAA, Lohn said, should not only put an asterisk next to Thomas' win, but also should be "remembered for turning its back on biological women and producing a competitive environment that was anything but legitimate."

"[T]he Lia Thomas situation, spurred by the NCAA, has long been a joke — although not a laughing matter," Lohn concluded.

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