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University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smiles on the podium after winning the 200 yard freestyle during the 2022 Ivy League Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 18, 2022 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — William “Lia” Thomas, the controversial male athlete who “identifies” as a female and competes on the women’s swim team, was nominated for the 2022 NCAA Woman of the Year award on Thursday by the University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas, 22, has shattered records and generated national controversy since he began competing on the women’s team in 2019 after swimming for three seasons on the men’s team.

In March, Thomas was declared the winner of the NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle event, coming in 1.75 seconds ahead of the best female swimmer, Virginia’s Emma Weyant of Sarasota, Florida. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis subsequently signed a proclamation declaring Weyant the “true winner” of the competition.

Thomas has drawn backlash from conservatives, women’s rights activists, and teammates for his involvement in women’s sports, with many arguing that regardless of how he “identifies,” it’s unfair and wrong for a male to compete against females.

RELATED: Ex-teammate of ‘Lia’ Thomas says swimmer is ‘mentally ill,’ insensitive to female athlete concerns

Meanwhile, Thomas’ nomination for the NCAA “Woman of the Year” award comes as transgender ideology has redefined womanhood as an essentially meaningless term with which anyone can identify.

Daily Wire podcaster and conservative author Matt Walsh has tackled the prevailing ideology in the massively popular documentary “What is a Woman.” In recent months, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) pressed liberal witnesses to define womanhood, using their inability to do so as a benchmark for their leftist radicalism.

Last week, a pro-abortion witness told Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri that claiming that only women can get pregnant is “transphobic” and “opens trans people up to violence.”

READ: Law prof tells Josh Hawley that doubting men can get pregnant ‘opens trans people up to violence’

Similarly, during her confirmation hearings earlier this year, now-Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was nominated by President Joe Biden, famously failed to answer what a woman is after being asked by Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn.

Meanwhile, Thomas’ involvement in women’s sports has sparked legislative efforts to protect women’s sports.

The Hill noted that since last year, 18 states have enacted laws requiring athletes to compete on teams that correspond with their biological sex.

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