PHILADELPHIA, PA – Several members of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team considered boycotting their team’s final meet of the season in protest over transgender teammate Lia Thomas, reportedly claiming that she has an unfair advantage due to having been born biologically male.
However, the members of the team decided at the last minute not to carry out their boycott of their January 8 meet against Dartmouth, as they feared repercussions from UPenn officials, including being possibly banned from the team.
Thomas, 22, had competed on the men’s swimming team at UPenn for three years – having swam for the men’s team as recently as November 2019 – before transitioning to female and joining the women’s team.
She has said that she has been taking a regimen of estrogen and testosterone blockers during her transition; according to NCAA rules, an individual that identifies as transgender must undergo at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment before they are eligible to compete on the women’s team.
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Since transitioning and joining the 41-member women’s swim team, Thomas has destroyed several UPenn records this season, including the 200-meter freestyle, 500-meter freestyle and 1650-meter freestyle, in which she beat the second place finisher – who was a UPenn teammate – by more than 38 seconds.
According to a source that is “close” to the UPenn team members who were considering the boycott they feel that their concerns about the purported unfair advantage Thomas possesses over them have been “ignored by both Penn and the NCAA.”
“There is a feeling among some of the girls that they should make some sort of statement, seize the opportunity while they have a spotlight on them to make their feelings about the issue known,” they said. “But it’s possible the swimmers may end up doing nothing because they are so afraid to be perceived as transphobic. Knowing they do not have backing from the school or NCAA, they’re reluctant to jeopardize their opportunity to make the elite Ivy League squad.”