A spokesperson for the University of Pennsylvania released a letter in support of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas on behalf of some of the school’s female swimmers, according to ESPN.
Several female swimmers have anonymously spoken to the media about the unfairness of a biological male competing in women’s sports, and one team member expressed discomfort about sharing a locker room with Thomas, who she said still has “male body parts” and is sexually attracted to women.
The letter of support was not signed, and it is unclear whether any team members were involved in writing it, but a university spokesperson told ESPN the letter represented “several” members of the women’s swim team.
“We want to express our full support for Lia in her transition,” the letter said, according to ESPN. “The sentiments put forward by an anonymous member of our team are not representative of the feelings, values, and opinions of the entire Penn team, composed of 39 women with diverse backgrounds.”
Lia Thomas, formerly known as Will Thomas, swam for the university’s men’s team for three years before he began identifying as a transgender woman. Thomas now dominates women’s swimming at the national level and, according to ESPN, qualified for the NCAA championships in March.
Thomas’s advantage over biological women sparked renewed debate about transgender athletes’ participation in women’s sports, resulting in the issuance of new NCAA rules which allow sports organizations to require certain testosterone levels of transgender athletes but ultimately defers to each sporting body to make its own policies.
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