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31 Jan, 2022 10:11

Swimming legend Phelps’ intersex alleged ex hits back over trans athletes

Athletes should not always be identified as the gender they were assigned at birth, the trans activist believes
Swimming legend Phelps’ intersex alleged ex hits back over trans athletes

A trans campaigner who has claimed she once dated Olympic Games legend Michael Phelps has said he "doesn't fully understand the science" behind the row over transgender athletes and described his remarks as making her feel like an "alien".

Taylor Lianne Chandler, who was born intersex – with male genitalia but no testicles and a uterus but no ovaries – has lashed out at quotes from swimming superstar Phelps about Lia Thomas, the transgender college athlete whose record-breaking feats have put her at the center of a fierce debate around fairness, with some calling on governing bodies to revise rules around testosterone requirements.

The author and self-described media personality acknowledged that Phelps appeared to have been caught off-guard when he was asked about the controversial issue but said she felt he should have openly offered support to transgender athletes.

"He went on to say a whole lot of vague and confusing things that could be taken to apply or not apply," said Thomas, telling Radar that Phelps is "a hypocrite for saying it should be a level playing field" and claiming that the record-breaking 28-time Olympic medalist also has "chemical advantages" in strength and endurance because he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"He doesn't fully understand the science, advantages or disadvantages," she said. "He is genetically superior with his 6ft 7in wingspan, double-jointed ankles and huge feet.

"His chemical composition allows him to breathe in and fill his lungs and hold his breath longer [than his competitors].

Taylor Lianne Chandler, who was born intersex – with male genitalia but no testicles and a uterus but no ovaries – has lashed out at quotes from swimming superstar Phelps about Lia Thomas, the transgender college athlete whose record-breaking feats have put her at the center of a fierce debate around fairness, with some calling on governing bodies to revise rules around testosterone requirements.

The author and self-described media personality acknowledged that Phelps appeared to have been caught off-guard when he was asked about the controversial issue but said she felt he should have openly offered support to transgender athletes.

"Even he says that he never competed on a level playing field, inferring doping, and they still could not beat him.

"In that moment of watching and hearing him say those things, it felt like a literal slap in the face.

"I felt like I was good enough to love, lay with and be with, but not be respected or allowed in the women's sport of swimming – like I was not a woman, but rather an alien or God-knows-what. It can't be a woman's sport if it doesn't include all women, period."

Phelps, who has never confirmed he had any relationship with Chandler, seemed to wrestle with his feelings on the topic when he was asked for his opinion.

"I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field," Phelps told Fox.

"I don’t know what it looks like in the future. It’s hard. It’s very complicated and this is my sport – this has been my sport my whole entire career – and honestly the one thing I would love is everybody being able to compete on an even playing field."

New guidelines from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have handed responsibility to indivdual sports for deciding rules around transgender competitors.

Campaigners have argued that trans athletes are at risk of being discriminated against, with one trans facilitator on an NCAA program resigning in protest.

Thomas has undergone hormone therapy, and Chandler discussed her views on the argument that trans athletes who have gone through puberty before transitioning have a considerable advantage against female rivals.

"One year on blockers and estrogen isn't enough to undue the advantage of masculinization during puberty that at 18 you would still be undergoing," she said.

"There should be standards but I don't believe they are fair enough at the moment, especially for someone who started the physical and medical transition a year ago."

Critics of Thomas's involvement in female competition have voiced concerns that she is denying athletes without her advantages the chance to meet their full potential.

"People against women in trans sports have like five examples to choose from," Chandler said of accusations that transgender athletes could rule competition.

"It's not like trans women are dominating any sport overall. It is a pocket here and there around the country that the press jumps on to make it seem like it is a world pandemic.

"It should not be blanket rules that you are identified by your sex assigned at birth.

"That can lead to outing trans youth who have lived stealth after transitioning young and classmates not being aware of their transition."

Chandler added that standards for trans female athletes should be set on a case-by-case basis in each sport.