NCAA nominates controversial transgender athlete for 'Woman of the Year' award

Lia Thomas drew criticism for participating in women's sports despite being born male.
Transgender woman Lia Thomas (L) of the University of Pennsylvania stands on the podium after winning the 500-yard freestyle as other medalists (L-R) Emma Weyant, Erica Sullivan and Brooke Forde pose for a photo at the NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lia Thomas
Getty Images

A controversial transgender swimmer is receiving a nomination for "female athlete of the year" in college athletics despite having been born male.

Lia Thomas, who identifies as a woman, is among the nearly 600 athletes up for the NCAA's Woman of the Year award. 

The award, "established in 1991," is meant to recognize "female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers," the NCAA says on its website. 

Thomas, who was born male, has drawn criticism for participating in women's competitions for the University of Pennsylvania, having dominated many events by significant margins ahead of female competitors. 

Both Penn and the NCAA have defended their decisions to allow transgender athletes to compete on teams that align with their "gender identity," with advocates regularly claiming that male bodies confer no innate advantages upon the athletes who inhabit them.