Lia Thomas Says Her Critics Using 'Feminism' Claims To Hide Transphobia
Lia Thomas Fires Back At Critics ... You're Using 'Feminism' To Hide Transphobia!!!
4/26/2023 7:34 AM PT
12:22 PM PT -- Former Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona joined Harvey and Charles on "TMZ Live" on Wednesday to talk about Lia Thomas' remarks ... and she said, in her opinion, there should be different categories for transgender athletes and biological females.
She compared the situation to sports like boxing and rowing -- which have weight classes -- telling the guys, "Sports is about fairness and rules, and it's about categories."
"Categories have opened up opportunities," the two-time Olympic gold medalist and women's rights activist said. "Let's acknowledge that the world of sport has bent over backwards to try to accommodate everybody, but in line with fairness and opportunity."
Lia Thomas -- the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I championship -- is firing back at her critics ... saying a lot of them are simply transphobes who are "using the guise of feminism" to hide their true, hateful beliefs.
Thomas opened up about her detractors in a lengthy interview this week with Schuyler Bailar -- the NCAA's first trans swimmer -- and she said it's just not possible to claim to be a feminist but to also not support her when it comes to competing against biological females.
"They're like, 'We respect Lia as a woman, as a trans woman, whatever, we respect her identity, we just don't think it's fair,'" the former collegiate swimmer said on the "Dear Schuyler" podcast.
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"You can't really have that sort of half support, where you're like, 'Oh, I respect her as a woman here, but not here.' They're using the guise of feminism to sort of push transphobic beliefs."
Thomas -- who competed against males but switched to female competitions after she started hormone therapy in 2019 -- received backlash following nearly every event that she won over biological women. Her critics argued she had an unfair advantage ... and should be forced to compete in a separate category.
The issue became such a big deal, it sparked legislators to introduce bills in parts of the country to place restrictions on transgender athletes.
Outspoken supporters of those rules -- such as former swim star Riley Gaines and even some of Thomas' ex-teammates at UPenn -- have called themselves feminists who are trying to fight to protect women's sports.
But, during her interview with Bailar, Thomas said she believes that's all just an oxymoron.
"I think a lot of people in that camp sort of carry an implicit bias against trans people," Thomas said, "but don't want to, I guess, fully manifest or speak that out and so they try to play it off as this sort of half support."
Bailar agreed, adding, "In order to exclude anybody in the trans category, you have to reduce women to reproductive capacity, which is, in my opinion, extremely anti-feminist."
Thomas said she'll continue to fight for trans rights even though her competitive swim career is over ... and implored those in the transgender community to trust they're not alone in the battle.