UPenn transgender women’s swimmer Lia Thomas ranked #1 among collegiate swimmers

After UPenn transgender women’s swimmer Lia Thomas was ranked #1 among collegiate swimmers, sixteen of Thomas’s teammates wrote a letter to the school and the Ivy League stating that they think it’s unfair that a biological male is allowed to compete on the women’s team.

The letter obtained by the Washington Post read, in part:

We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically. However, we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. 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. 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 of possible retaliation in the current political climate. Instead, former Olympic gold medalist and women’s athlete advocate Nancy Hogshead-Makar sent the letter on the women’s behalf.

Feared retaliation

The swimmers said they feared they “would be removed from the team or that [they] would never get a job offer” because of their request to prevent Thomas from competing.

Thomas competed on the men’s swimming team at UPenn for three seasons and was ranked #462 among the men, showing the tremendous advantage that biologically male athletes have when competing against biological women.

Even the new Ivy League requirement to undergo hormone suppression has not leveled out the playing field, so to speak.

On Tuesday, a different group of swimmers from the team put out a statement in support of Thomas after a UPenn swimmer spoke out against Thomas’s participation on Fox News.


“We want to express our full support for Lia in her transition,” the athletes said in Tuesday’s statement, ESPN reported. “We value her as a person, teammate, and friend. 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.”

But a parent of a UPenn swimmer who didn’t want to be identified told the Post that the letter only represented “two or three” swimmers on the team.

The issue of transgender participation in sports has been a divisive one, pitting those who want to affirm transgender orientation against those who want women to be able to compete fairly.

The NCAA established a sport-by-sport guideline that allows variation in the requirements for transgender athletes to compete. In swimming, a panel of independent medical experts will evaluate whether the transgender male has an advantage, and testosterone levels will also be monitored to make sure they are low enough.

And even with all that, Thomas has been able to beat all of his biological female competitors.

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