Lia Thomas
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas captured the US collegiate 500-yard crown at the NCAA championships GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / Kathryn Riley

"That is a fraud. That is wrong," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, while speaking about transgender swimmer Lia Thomas and her ability to compete in the women's division in the NCAA.

DeSantis has been one of the more vocal high profile figures in the debate over whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in a sports category in the gender they transitioned as whether or not they had previously competed in the gender they were born as.

Now, the governor did not mince words while talking about Thomas, who won the women's 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA national championships last year. DeSantis took the stage at an event in Liberty University in Virginia, and spoke about the issue.

He did not mention her by name, but it was clear from the details he mentioned that he was referring to Thomas when he said, "it is wrong to have a swimmer compete for three years on the men's swim team, switch to the women's team and win the women's national championship."

DeSantis is one of many critics of Thomas and her participation in women's sports. She is also not the only transgender athlete who transitioned from male to female and completely clobbered the competition in the female category in various sporting disciplines.

Critics claim that having been born male, these transgender athletes still have body parts that have male characteristics even if they received hormone blockers at some point during their transition. This leads to an unfair advantage against biological women, even if a transgender receives hormone therapy early in life.

To further prove his point, Fox News reports that DeSantis had signed a proclamation declaring biological female athlete Emma Weyant as the true winner of the 500-yeard freestyle national title that Thomas won.

While DeSantis has gained supporters worldwide for his stance on protecting the rights of biological women, he also has his fair share of detractors. As he pushes for women to only compete against other women, DeSantis has been accused of discrimination and of being transphobic.

Despite the backlash from the transgender community, DeSantis is not wavering in his opinion that woman cannot possibly overcome the disadvantage of competing against biological males.

Furthermore, he spearheaded Florida's move to stop doctors from performing sex change surgeries on minors and from giving them puberty blockers to manipulate their hormones. He said that "in Florida, physicians who do those things will lose their medical license."

The issue is becoming a national discussion and there have been whispers over the possibility of DeSantis making a run for the presidency in 2024. He is certainly making noise around himself over the issue, and it remains to be seen if it will push his political agenda forward as well.

Meanwhile, speaking of protecting the integrity of women's sports, it may be remembered that Thomas also tied with 12-time All-American female swimmer Riley Gaines in the 200-yard NCAA championships in March 2022.

Gaines has also been vocal about the issue, and has been paying the price for it. She was recently violently attacked by a man wearing a dress and she had to be barricaded in a room after being mobbed by protesters and transgender rights activists after she defended the rights of female athletes at a speaking engagement at San Francisco State University.

The said "ambush" came after the event which has been labelled by SFSU President Lynn Mahoney to be "deeply traumatic" for the transgender community. The event, where Gaines was a guest speaker, was aimed at advocating for the exclusion of transgenders in athletic events, particularly male-born athletes who wish to compete against women. Gaines has since claimed that her speech was entirely peaceful.