16 UPenn swimmers say transgender teammate Lia Thomas has an ‘unfair advantage’

16 UPenn swimmers say transgender teammate Lia Thomas has an ‘unfair advantage’

Sixteen members of the women’s swimming team at the University of Pennsylvania have come forward to say that their transgender teammate, Lia Thomas, should not be allowed to compete in an upcoming competition.

The members of the team, whose names have been kept anonymous, sent a letter on Thursday to school and Ivy League officials with their concerns.

Those 16 team members wrote in their letter asking those officials to not take legal action against the NCAA’s updated transgender policy. The new ruling would possibly prevent Thomas, 22, from competing at the NCAA championship meet next month.

“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman,” the letter said. “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.”

The group noted that “Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category” because of her “biology,” and they pointed out that Thomas increased in rank “from #462 as a male to #1 as a female.”

The teammates continued, “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 was reportedly signed by the female athletes and was then sent by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic swimming gold medalist, lawyer, and chief executive of Champion Women, which is an advocacy organization for women’s sports.

Hogshead-Makar said she was the one who sent out the letter in order that the team could avoid any potential “retaliation.” The athletes added in their letter that they had been told they would be “removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they were to speak out against Thomas and Thomas’ participation.

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