Sixteen women on the University of Pennsylvania swim team said their transgender teammate, Lia Thomas, should not be allowed to compete in the women’s category, The Washington Post reported.
The teammates sent a letter to the university and to Ivy League officials asking that they not take legal action against new NCAA rules which would block Thomas from competing in the 2022 championships, according to the Post. The women said they supported Thomas’s decision to live as a transgender woman, but they say “the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity.”
Lia Thomas, formerly known as Will Thomas, competed on the Penn men’s team for three years before proclaiming to be a woman and competing in the women’s category. Thomas now dominates women’s swimming at the national level.
“Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female,” the letter said, the Post reported. “If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete.”
The athletes did not identify themselves in the letter, because they feared retaliation, but instead sent it through Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an attorney and 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist, the Post reported. The women said they were told “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they spoke out against the team’s decision to include Lia Thomas, the Post reported.
The letter comes just days after a spokesperson for the Penn swim team released an unsigned letter of support for Lia Thomas that the school claimed represented “several” of the female team members.
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