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Caitlyn Jenner has weighed in on the controversy surrounding transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Thomas, who was recently on the cover of Sports Illustrated, explained that the 'very simple answer' to why she competes in women's sports is, 'I am not a man. I'm a woman — so I belong on the women's team.'
However, Thomas has been the subject of intense criticism, with some arguing that the athlete holds an unfair physical advantage over other competitors who were born as biological women.
The 72-year-old, who won gold in the 1976 Montreal Olympics' Decathlon, explained to Mail Online that discussions about gender 'were never meant to be like this'.
'I respect [Lia's] right to transition and I hope she has a wonderful, wonderful life. But she grew up as a biological boy and I don't think it's fair that she's competing in women's sports. Her cardiovascular system is bigger, her heart is bigger, she's got longer arms and legs', she said.
'Three years earlier, she was on the men's team ranked 462; now she's No. 1 in the same event for women? Obviously, it's not fair.'
🗣️ "The very simple answer is that I'm not a man. I'm a woman, so I belong on the women's team."— SPORTbible (@sportbible) March 5, 2022
Lia Thomas has hit out against her harshest critics, claiming that her treatment hasn't been warranted at all. https://t.co/0OAh4ARibV
Trans women are required to have been on hormone therapy for at least 12 months prior to competing in their sport according to guidelines set out by the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Despite how Thomas is abiding by those rules, Jenner reflected: 'She's following the rules, but the rules have to change.'
Thomas has been receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for 34 months, however new regulations are set to come into place which state that trans athletes have to have been on HRT for 36 months before applying to swim as a woman.
Jenner noted: 'Here's an example: I play golf and, seven years after my transition, I still have a big advantage over women players. I'm 6ft 1in. I have longer arms than the ladies and I can outdrive them by a hundred yards. Even being off testosterone and on oestrogen for seven years now, what I've got left over is still more than they've ever had. So, it wouldn't be fair.'
Jenner explained how she would 'feel bad taking a trophy away from one of the ladies at our club who really deserves it,' and so has subsequently turned down opportunities to play in women's tournaments.
SI sat down for an exclusive interview with Penn's Lia Thomas, the woman at the heart of the debate over transgender athletes.— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 3, 2022
“I am here to swim,” she told @MileHighRobert https://t.co/aj5lgk7kdo pic.twitter.com/JR8eQK7aip
While Jenner expressed her support for Thomas' transitioning and the athlete 'living her authentic self', she stated: 'I don't see how you can be happy beating other girls under these circumstances. You have to have a sense of personal responsibility. You can still enjoy sports but not play at a competitive level, right?'
The former Olympic athlete concluded: 'Things are getting out of control. There are all these different genders. It's too complicated and it's taking over the world. [...] I don't think biological boys should compete in women's sports — we have to protect women's sports. That's the bottom line.'
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers
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