A transgender woman is facing backlash from trolls after achieving a record-breaking swim win.
Last week, University of Pennsylvania swim star Lia Thomas qualified for the upcoming NCAA Division 1 championship.
During her recent race, she broke a conference record after she earned the time of 1:41.93 and 4:34.06 for the 200 and 500-yard freestyle.
Since achieving such a massive feat, the UPenn senior has received an array of backlash from conservatives and anti-trans individuals.
Last week, the right-winged sports publication OutKick published an anonymous letter from a teammate that stated that their support for Thomas was “very fake.”
The letter was also full of transphobic rhetoric and even deadnamed her throughout the piece.
Journalists like Piers Morgan, Megyn Kelly and Jesse Kelly also criticised the student athlete’s involvement in the sport.
In a recent interview with SwimSwam, Thomas opened up about her transgender journey and the pushback she received.
“I first realized I was trans the summer before, in 2018,” she said. “There was a lot of uncertainty, I didn’t know what I would be able to do, if I would be able to keep swimming.
“And so, I decided to swim out the 2018-2019 year as a man, without coming out, and that caused a lot of distress to me.”
The women are in second place after day one of the Zippy Invitational.
Lia Thomas set a pool and meet record in the 500 free!
— Penn Swimming & Diving (@PennSwimDive) December 4, 2021
She went on to say that before she was able to come out, her mental health took a nosedive and she felt trapped in her own body.
In 2019, the young athlete began her transition while still competing in the men’s swim division.
“Being in the early stages of transition, it was a very awkward experience of basically being a woman competing in a men’s meet. It was uncomfortable, so I didn’t compete that much,” she explained.
Over the course of two years, Thomas underwent testosterone suppression treatments that helped her qualify to play as a woman.
Although she was overjoyed to compete in the sport, she did expect to face criticisms from conservatives.
“We expected there would be some measure of pushback by people. [Not] quite the extent it’s blown up, we weren’t fully expecting — but we were expecting that,” she said.
“I just don’t engage with it. It’s not healthy for me to read it and engage with it at all, and so I don’t, and that’s all I’ll say on that.”
Towards the end of the interview, Thomas said she was proud of her groundbreaking achievements.
“I’m very proud of my times and my ability to keep swimming and continue competing and they’re suited up times and I’m happy with them and my coaches are happy with them,” she said, “and that’s what matters to me.”
Watch Lia Thomas’s full SwimSwam interview here or below.