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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke June 25, 2024

No, transgender swimmer Lia Thomas didn’t say she’s leaving the U.S.

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  • This claim originated on self-described satire pages.

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas recently lost a legal challenge to overturn rules barring her from competing in women’s elite swimming races. But claims that she’s leaving the U.S. as a result aren’t true. 

"Lia Thomas declares: ‘In our country, only people like Butker have a place — I’m leaving the USA,’" a June 20 Facebook post said, referring to Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who gave a controversial college commencement speech in May urging women to be homemakers.

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

This claim originated on self-described satire pages. Other Facebook posts sharing the identical claim come with a caveat: "Rated Satire."

We found no credible news reports or public statements from Thomas to support this claim, which isn’t new.  In January, Reuters fact-checked a similar quote attributed to the swimmer. 

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"Lia Thomas says she’s leaving the US for a ‘more tolerant country,’" Facebook posts said without evidence. That statement also originated on a self-described satire site but was being reshared without that label.

After the Court of Arbitration of Sport in Switzerland ruled that Thomas lacked standing to bring a case against World Aquatics, which sets the rules for elite swimming competitions, Thomas said, via a statement from her legal team, that it was "deeply disappointing." 

"Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities," she said in the statement. "The CAS decision should be seen as a call to action to all trans women athletes to continue to fight for our dignity and human rights."

We rate claims Thomas said she was leaving the U.S. False.


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No, transgender swimmer Lia Thomas didn’t say she’s leaving the U.S.

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