In an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated, one of The most talked about athlete in college sports, Lia Thomas, talks about her transition and how she dealt with toxic comments about her career as a trans swimmer. “I am not a man,” she said. “I’m a woman, so I belong to the women’s team. Trans people deserve the same respect as all other athletes. Thomas started swimming with the University of Pennsylvania men’s team his freshman year and flourished; she broke personal bests and made friends. But she struggled with gender dysphoria. “I missed classes. My sleep schedule was super messed up. Some days I couldn’t get out of bed,” she said. After coming out as trans, she knew it could affect her future: “I [hormone replacement therapy] knowing and accepting that I could no longer swim,” she said. Regarding the therapy, she said, “It surprised me…I felt, mentally, much better and healthier quite quickly.” After swimming on the men’s team for three years, she began competing on the women’s team and described feeling physically slower during training. Despite the national outcry that followed her success in the women’s league, Thomas committed to swimming like herself. “I’m a woman, like everyone else on the team,” Thomas said. “I have always considered myself a simple swimmer. That’s what I did for so long; that’s what I like.