Despite controversy, transgender swimmer to compete at Georgia Tech championship

Despite objections from one conservative group, a trans woman will compete at the NCAA Division I women’s swimming championship at Georgia Tech this week.

Lia Thomas, a student-athlete from the University of Pennsylvania who is a trans woman, has been at the center of a nationwide debate over whether she has an unfair advantage. 

Her participation in the championship brought conservative blogger Matt Walsh to Tech’s campus on Monday night. Walsh hosted an event called "Why Men Don’t Belong in Women’s Sports." 

"Thomas is not a female and will never be one. He’s a man, okay?" Walsh told a mostly agreeable audience. "With XY chromosomes and male anatomy."

Outside, several dozen protesters gathered in support of transgender rights chanted, "say it loud, say it clear trans athletes are welcome here!" 

One student said the event is not indicative of the campus’ inclusive culture.

"We very much support transgender people, especially transgender women. The Georgia Tech body as a whole doesn’t agree with Matt Walsh," said a protester named Andrea, who declined to give their last name. "We’re not even sure why he’s here."

Tech alum Michael McKinsey disagreed.

"It’s obviously unfair and taking opportunities away from women that should be earning those medals," McKinsey said. 

A Georgia Tech spokesperson insisted that the event was not affiliated with or sponsored by the school.

"We are committed to fostering thoughtful interaction, global perspective, and intercultural sensitivity, and we maintain a strong equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, and anti-harassment policy that applies to every member of the Institute community," a statement to FOX 5 said in part. "Georgia Tech holds the first amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to assemble peaceably as an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge and the right of a free people."

The championship in which Thomas is competing will take place on Tech’s campus Wednesday through Thursday.