Teammates Don't Want Transitioned Swimmer to Compete

Letter from 16 members of Penn women's team says Lia Thomas has an unfair advantage
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2022 4:55 PM CST
Teammates Say Trans Swimmer Has Unfair Advantage
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas at a meet on Jan. 22.   (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

Lia Thomas' teammates have weighed in against allowing the transgender swimmer to compete on the University of Pennsylvania women's squad. A letter sent to Ivy League and school officials, which says it's from 16 unidentified team members, asked that they not challenge the NCAA's revised policy on participation by transgender athletes. The policy could keep Thomas out of the NCAA championships in March, the Washington Post reports. Thomas swam for the school's men's team for three seasons before her transition and is now on the women's team.

The teammates wrote that they support Thomas' decision to transition, as another group of Penn swimmers had earlier this week. But "biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women's category," the letter says, adding, "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 letter points out that Thomas was ranked No. 462 when competing against men and rose to No. 1 after joining the women's team. She's set a series of Penn records this season, per Sports Illustrated. The letter was sent by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic gold medalist, who said she handled it so the swimmers wouldn't face retaliation. (Read more LGBTQ stories.)

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