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Former Penn swimmer Lia Thomas: Trans women do not threaten women’s sports

(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is speaking out about her participation in women’s swimming.

The former Penn swimmer sat down with ABC News and ESPN in her first major interview since the NCAA swim season ended back in early March. During the NCAA swimming and diving championships in Atlanta, Thomas declined all interview requests, but she made waves in and out of the pool as the first known transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I title.

Since then, transgender participation in sport has remained a hotly contested issue across the country.

In March, Idaho became the first state to pass a law that restricts transgender students’ access to sports. While governor Spencer Cox attempted to veto the bill, the veto was overridden by the state’s lawmakers. As of May 24, 18 U.S. states have either laws or an executive order that limits the participation of transgender athletes in sport, according to the New York Times.

The legislators often have cited the need to protect women’s sports as a reason for the bans.

“Trans women competing in women’s sports does not threaten women’s sports as a whole,” Thomas told ESPN, adding that she doesn’t buy legislators’ reasoning. “Trans women are a very small minority of all athletes. The NCAA rules regarding trans women competing in women’s sports have been around for 10-plus years. And we haven’t seen any massive wave of trans women dominating.”

After graduating from Penn earlier this month, Thomas will attend law school in the fall, where she plans to focus on civil rights and public interest law.

“Having seen such hateful attacks on trans rights through legislation, fighting for trans rights and trans equality is something that I’ve become much more passionate about and want to pursue,” she said.

Thomas competed for the University of Pennsylvania for four seasons.

She spent her first three seasons competing with the men’s team. She began hormone therapy in 2019 after her sophomore year while still competing for the men’s team, and then, after the Ivy League canceled the 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she competed this past season on the women’s team.

By the time she began her senior season, she had undergone 30 months of hormone therapy.

In January, the NCAA announced that its transgender athlete policy would rely on the policies of individual sports’ national governing bodies. Then in February, USA Swimming updated its policy, requiring 36 months of hormone therapy and evaluation of eligibility by a three-person panel.

For this year’s swimming and diving championships, the new policy was not adopted by the NCAA. Instead, compliance fell under the previous policy and testosterone levels that were below 10 nanomoles per liter. Under that policy, Thomas was ruled eligible to compete.

At the championships in March, Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle. She later placed fifth and eighth, respectively, in the 200- and 100-yard freestyle events.

Some athletes have spoken out in support of Thomas, with Texas freshman Erica Sullivan writing that equal rights for transgender athletes “should not be denied.” Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who tied Thomas in the 200, spoke out against her participation.

“What are we trying to protect?” Gaines said in an interview with ABC’s “Nightline.” “If our priorities are fairness, which it should be in sports, why are we completely neglecting that for one person or a small group of people?”

Olympic gold medalist and Australian swimmer Emma McKeon said in April that transgender participation in sport is something that governing bodies are going to have to “think about how to handle it and how to deal with it.”

“Because you do want to be inclusive, but you don’t want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it’s just not fair,” she added.

Thomas, though, pushed back against those that make the argument that opening up participation could lead to the transitioning of athletes to gain an unfair advantage.

“The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned,” Thomas said. “People will say, ‘Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage, so she could win.’

“I transitioned to be happy, to be true to myself.”

Caitlin Clark stuns in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports. It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation and shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing him a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her best line of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns start NWSL season winless, in uncharted territory

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage and remaining winless through its first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before. Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 


She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, answers need to be had from head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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