March 22, 2022 // Perspective

How the world has failed Lia Thomas

When Will Thomas was in his sophomore and junior years of college at the University of Pennsylvania, he decided that he was a woman, began hormone replacement therapy and changed his name to Lia. This month, at age 22, Thomas was scheduled to compete in three events at the NCAA women’s swimming championships in Atlanta — events in which he was strongly favored.

No doubt you have heard of Thomas, who has become the face of the full-on collision that has taken place between the ever-surging transgender movement and women’s sports. Thomas’ argument is that because he has transitioned, he should be able to compete in women’s sports.

“I’m a woman, just like anybody else on the team,” he said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated. But Thomas, of course, is not a woman, regardless of how much he might want to be. And he is not just like anybody else on the team. Thomas is biologically male and has the physical qualities of a man, which makes him stronger and faster than his female competitors, giving him a natural advantage in the world of athletics. As a male athlete on the men’s swimming team, Thomas was mostly inconsequential. As a male athlete on the women’s swimming team, he is breaking record after record and is now bound to compete at the highest level of collegiate sports.

Understandably, this complete lack of equity has drawn strong (though mostly anonymous) objections from some parents, teammates and leaders — even those who self-identify as “progressives” and who otherwise champion the transgender movement (that is, in circumstances other than when they are affected by its consequences). Truth may be shoved into a corner, but by definition it cannot be obliterated completely. Facts are facts. Males and females are different and they have been from the dawn of creation. Those differences can never be fully eliminated, despite the many options available to try to make it so.

Discussing this greatly disturbing rise of gender ideology, Pope Francis counseled in his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia: “It needs to be emphasized that ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated.’ […] It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created” (No. 56).

Creation — including the creation of our very lives — is a gift from God. It is not up to us to reject that gift, regardless of how we might feel or what others assure us is good and right. But this basic truth has been sacrificed at the altar of ideology and buried by the growing number of those who would insist that there is no divine Creator. Those who believe they are supporting Thomas have actually failed him by refusing to accept or even simply to acknowledge that great truth. Thomas has been assured by undoubtedly well-meaning family, friends, coaches, school officials and counselors, sports leaders and media that “her truth” is equal to the truth, regardless of the realities of biology and ontology. This is the “dictatorship of relativism” of which Pope Benedict so often warned.

Our hearts go out to Thomas, who clearly is struggling to find his place in this vast, confusing world. And we pray that he comes to see himself through the eyes of the One who knows him better than anyone else does — and who loves Thomas just as He made him.

Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young

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