Lia Thomas, a trans University of Pennsylvania swimmer, was slammed by talking head Piers Morgan in an op-ed published by the New York Post on Wednesday. 

Morgan said Thomas’ participation on the UPenn women’s swim team is unfair to athletes who were assigned female at birth and argued that her biology gives her the same advantage as a performance-enhancing drug. 

Thomas, 22, is a college student and private citizen, though she’s been dragged into the public arena in recent weeks as she continues to set new records for UPenn women’s swimming. 

While she has not responded directly to Morgan or other prominent critics, Thomas has said that her teammates fully support her inclusion, and her participation has followed the guidelines established by NCAA’s governing body. 

Piers Morgan Takes Aim at College Student

In his column titled “Trans athletes like Lia Thomas are destroying women’s sports in way as unfair as doping cheats — stop this woke insanity now,” Morgan argued that Thomas should be barred from participation on UPenn’s women’s swim team because she is trans. 

The TV personality claimed to support social acceptance for trans people but said that tolerance “shouldn’t entitle those born with male biological bodies to create a new unfairness and inequality by competing in sport against women born female.”

“Yet this is exactly what is happening, most notably in women’s swimming, where trans athlete Lia Thomas is demolishing her rivals and making an absolute mockery of sporting fairness,” he added

Piers Morgan is hoping to regain relevancy by picking a fight with Lia Thomas
Piers Morgan is hoping to regain relevance by picking a fight with Lia Thomas, a 22-year-old trans college athlete. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Morgan wrote that he doesn’t blame Thomas, who “should be able to compete as a swimmer […] either against biological men as she did before, or in a new category against other trans women.”

He also criticized the NCAA’s recently updated guidelines, which now promote a “sport-by-sport approach to transgender participation,” for “tip-toeing” around the issue. Still, 56-year-old Morgan mentioned the NCAA only in passing, and spent most of the column focused on Thomas, a 22-year-old college student who he has never met. 

“Thomas, 22, was a mediocre performer when she competed as a man but is now a record-breaking phenomenon competing as a woman, winning some races by several whole laps of a pool,” wrote the former CNN host. 

The column is a return to form for Morgan, whose relevance has faded since he was fired from Good Morning Britain for saying that Meghan Markle was lying about being suicidal. 

Piers Morgan thinks trans swimmer Lia Thomas shouldn't be allowed to compete with cis athletes.
Piers Morgan thinks trans swimmer Lia Thomas shouldn’t be allowed to compete with cis athletes. Photo credit: Shutterstock

While the sudden feminist rhetoric is certainly a course change — Morgan once interrupted a meteorologist on air to comment on her “skintight leather hot pants” — the choice to target a trans woman is not. 

In 2014, Morgan invited Janet Mock on his CNN talk show, ostensibly to promote her then-new book Redefining Realness. During the interview, the host repeatedly returned to the topic of Mock’s physical transition despite her unease. After the show, he demanded an apology from her. 

Lia Thomas Says Teammates Support Her

For her part, Thomas has said her fellow athletes at UPenn embrace her presence on the swim team. 

“The team has been unbelievably supportive since the beginning,” she told Pink News in December. “I feel very supported. Just treated like any other member of the women’s team.”

Of the NCAA policy on trans athletes, (which had not been revised at the time of the interview,) Thomas said: “I think the guidelines they set forward are very good, and do a very good job of promoting inclusivity while keeping competitional integrity going.” 

And though Thomas has enjoyed a historic season, she is not quite as dominant as Morgan implies.

Just earlier this month, Thomas lost a 400-yard freestyle relay against Yale swimmer Iszac Henig, a trans man who is waiting to finish up his athletic career before beginning hormone replacement therapy — or, as Morgan may call him, a “biological woman.” 

Lia Thomas swimming
Lia Thomas, a UPenn swimmer, said her teammates support her. Meanwhile, Piers Morgan thinks she shouldn’t be allowed on the team because she is trans. (Credit: Instagram)