Sharron Davies blows up Labor MP for rejecting ‘lazy’ criticism of US trans swimmer Lia Thomas, accusing her of ‘abandoning’ women’s rights
- Sharron Davies said a Member of Parliament has ‘given up women’s rights’ in the trans-swimming row
- Lia Thomas, who swam as a man in 2019, won the women’s freestyle race last week
- Labor Charlotte Nichols called criticism of American swimmer ‘lazy transphobia’
Olympic medalist Sharron Davies has accused a Labor MP of ‘abandoning’ women’s rights after she defended a transgender swimmer.
Former spokeswoman for women and equality Charlotte Nichols said it was ‘lazy transphobia’ to criticize Lia Thomas, who became the first transgender athlete to win an American college championship.
Miss Thomas, 22, who competed as a man until three years ago, is now just a step away from the Olympics after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle last Thursday.
Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies (pictured) shouted at Charlotte Nichols MP and accused her of misunderstanding elite sports and abandoning women’s rights in a row over whether trans women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports.
Charlotte Nichols (pictured) said she used to swim competitively and that she’s sure she’s on the right side of the story in the transatlantic debate
Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas (pictured) is the first known transgender woman to win an NCAA Swimming Championship
Warrington North MP Miss Nichols said she, as a former competition swimmer, knew how much training was required for the ‘incredible performance’. But her comments sparked more than 2,000 critical reactions on social media – including from former swimmer Miss Davies.
The silver winner tweeted: ‘A disgraceful abandonment of women’s right to equal opportunities in sports. So disappointing from a Member of Parliament who allegedly also represents women, I suppose?
‘A total misunderstanding of elite sports. I seriously question your understanding of high-level performance competition [and] education.’
It came after two senior Labor MPs, Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and party chairman Anneliese Dodds, refused to define the word ‘woman’.
Party leader Sir Keir Starmer also provoked a backlash – including from author JK Rowling – for saying that it ‘was actually the law’ that trans women are women.
Lia Thomas (pictured with her trophy) won the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships last Thursday
The most recent row was triggered by Miss Thomas’ victory in the NCAA Division I Championship in Atlanta.
The American swimmer, who finished outside the NCAA’s top 500 when he competed as a man, started hormone therapy in 2019.
She was allowed to compete last week under rules that require an athlete to undergo a year of testosterone suppression.
But her victory – which led her to beat two Olympic medalists – was met with buh from the audience as well as an outcry from sports legends. Tennis star Martina Navratilova suggested that the NCAA put a star next to Miss Thomas’ name, while World Athletics President Sebastian Coe warned that ‘gender cannot trump biology’.
As the debate continued online this week, a Twitter user asked Miss Nichols what she thought.
She replied: ‘As a former competitive swimmer, I know well how much training is required for a title like this. Anyone who sincerely tries to downplay Lia Thomas’ incredible performance due to lazy transphobia should honestly pay attention. Huge congratulations to her. ‘
When she was attacked, Miss Nichols said she ‘was not worried that it was me who was on the wrong side of the story here’.
She added that Miss Thomas was not ‘invincible’ as she had finished fifth and eighth in other races at the same competition.
And she said: ‘If you really want to save women’s sport, you would be focused on unequal funding and endemic sexual harassment / securing coaches’ failure, not on excluding trans women from participating.’
Tory MP Mark Jenkinson said Miss Nichols’ comments were ‘signal of virtue’ and were ‘out of touch with the vast majority of her constituents’.