Fact Check

Lia Thomas Decides To Swim with Men's Team After Facing 'Extreme Criticism'?

"Good luck," several people commented.

Published Oct. 23, 2023

 (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
Claim:
In October 2023, former NCAA swimmer Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, decided to swim with a men's team after facing "extreme criticism."

On Oct. 21, 2023, SpaceXMania published an article claiming that former NCAA swimmer Lia Thomas had decided to swim with a men's team after facing "extreme criticism." Thomas, a transgender woman, become the first known trans athlete to win a Division I national championship in any sport in March 2022.

The SpaceXMania article said:

Breaking: Lia Thomas to Swim With A Men’s Team After Extreme Criticism

In a move that has sent shockwaves through the world of competitive swimming, Lia Thomas has reportedly decided to join a men’s swim team after enduring relentless criticism surrounding her participation in women’s events. This decision is emblematic of the broader challenges and controversies that transgender athletes face and further intensifies the debate on gender, biology, and fairness in sports.

In October 2023, the story appeared on a Facebook page associated with SpaceXMania.com named SpaceX Lovers. We found comments under the post that indicated people believed the story was real, stating they were glad Thomas would be competing on a men's team. "Good luck," several people commented.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. As originally published, the SpaceXMania article featured a "Satire" label above its headline. SpaceXMania describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

Please note that the article under the category "SATIRE" are satirical in nature and are not meant to be taken seriously. These articles are meant to be humorous and are often entirely made up. We make no claim that the information presented in these articles is true or accurate.

We've previously fact-checked other false claims that have been made about Thomas, including one article by satirical website The Dunning-Kruger Times that said former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines had settled a lawsuit against Thomas for $1.2 million. Gaines is an advocate against transgender woman competing in female sports and has previously criticized an NCAA decision that allowed Thomas to compete against her in Division I women’s races.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.

Sources

Barnes, Katie. “Thomas First Transgender Athlete to Win D-I Title.” ESPN, 17 Mar. 2022, https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/33529775/amid-protests-pennsylvania-swimmer-lia-thomas-becomes-first-known-transgender-athlete-win-division-national-championship.

Humbles, Andy. "Sumner County's Riley Gaines Talks about Texas Protests over 'Save Women's Sports Act.'" The Tennessean, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/sumner/2023/08/10/riley-gaines-on-texas-protests-over-anti-transgender-athlete-bill/70559098007/. Accessed 11 Aug. 2023.

Liles, Jordan. “Riley Gaines Settled a Lawsuit Against Swimmer Lia Thomas for $1.2M?” Snopes, 16 Aug. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/gaines-thomas-lawsuit-satire/.

Mikkelson, David. “Why We Include Humor and Satire in Snopes.Com.” Snopes, 15 Aug. 2019, https://www.snopes.com/notes/why-we-include-humor-and-satire-in-snopes-com/.

Schoenbaum, Hannah. “North Carolina House Approves Ban on Transgender Athletes.” AP News, 19 Apr. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/transgender-sports-ban-north-carolina-e09882f3f3e2ace72de2004d2f438a7e.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.