Transgender athletes: UPenn swimmers call male participation ‘unfair’


Lia Thomas of the Pennsylvania Quakers after completing a freestyle event during a tri-meet against the Yale Bulldogs and the Dartmouth Big Green at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 8, 2022. (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Sixteen swimmers from the University of Pennsylvania women’s team sent a letter to the school and the Ivy League on Thursday calling it unfair that transgender teammate Lia Thomas was allowed to compete in the women’s category.

“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and transition from male to female. Lia has every right to live her life authentically,” the letter, obtained by the Washington Post, read. “However, we also recognize that when it comes to athletic competition, the biology of sex is a separate issue from a person’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the female category, as in her ranking jumped from #462 as a male to #1 as a female. If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break the Penn, Ivy and NCAA female swimming records; she could never have done as a male athlete.

After competing in the men’s swimming division for three seasons, Thomas adopted a female name after transitioning and joined the women’s team. Since then, Thomas has broken records, technically holding the title of No. 1 female swimmer in the nation, with the fastest women’s 500-yard freestyle in the nation and the all-time record for Penn’s women’s team.

In their plea to administrators, the offending swimmers complained that Thomas was stealing “competitive opportunities” from them, including at the Ivy League championship tie, for which recruiting is highly selective.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist and women’s sports activist, sent the letter on behalf of the girls, she told the To post in an interview.

The swimmers said in the letter that they fear ‘we will be removed from the team or that we will never get a job offer’ if they ask Thomas to be banned from competing on the team feminine.

They also called on UPenn and the Ivy League to refrain from initiating litigation over the NCAA’s updated guidelines for transgender participation, which defer decision-making on the issue to the respective governing bodies. of every sport. USA Swimming followed by issuing a new policy stipulating hormone suppression requirements for transgender athletes.

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