For months as Lia Thomas, a biological male who identifies as a woman and swims on UPenn's women's swim team, has broken records and won accolades in the pool. Thomas' female teammates have had to make do knowing that second place what the highest achievement they could hope for when swimming against Thomas. Now one of her teammates has spoken out. "This is a problem that needs to be fixed," she told News Nation.
The teammate spoke on condition of anonymity. Concerns are that speaking out against the incredible unfairness in women's sports would result in backlash against the woman swimmer, and not against the institutions that have allowed this to happen.
Speaking to News Nation, the swimmer said that she decided to remain anonymous because "there's about 2 percent of the population in this country who attack people no matter what they say. They don't actually have an argument and they don't present any facts or logic. They just want to attack other people and like to bring people down. I just don't really want to subject myself to that."
"The other teammates who see this the same way that you do, how do they feel about speaking out about this? Are they scared?" She was asked.
"I think a lot of my teammates are really scared," she said.
Many women swimmers have not spoken out, and there have been rumors that they have been cautioned by UPenn coaches and administrators not to do so. Those who have spoken out have done so anonymously. One female swimmer said that "women are now third-class citizens" in the sport.
Parents of the women swimmers, too, have been hesitant to speak out about the obvious unfairness in allowing a fully grown, biological male, to compete on the women's swim team.
She was asked about her reaction, and her teammates' reaction, the first time Thomas got in the pool to compete on the women's team, despite being fully and biologically male.
"The first time I can remember I was kind of shocked that this was like here and like this was actually happening and like there was going to be no one to step in either way and kind of like assess the situation. We were kind of just made to accept it and not question ever say anything," she said.
The female swimmer was asked about Thomas' recent interview in Sports Illustrated, wherein Thomas said "I am a woman," and said that competing on the US Olympic Women's Swim team was a goal.
"I agree that Lia identifies as a woman," the anonymous female swimmer said, "but I think that there's differences between the physiological makeup of a transgender woman versus a cis gender woman and to allow Lia 100 percent The ability to be on the woman's team and no rules or anything like that, which is not fair."
The female teammate repeatedly used the term "cis gender," which is the term coined by trans advocates to differentiate between biological males who identify as transgender, which they call trans women, and women who are women, which they call "cis women." It is a way to make both actual women and biological men who identify as women subsets of the category women and allow the definition of "woman," which is an "adult human female," to include men in it as well.
"It's not like people are discriminating against Lia and saying that she cannot swim," the female swimmer said, "you know, she identified as a woman and still spam on the men's team. And that's a choice that she's making but then to then compete with the women's team on that something that other you know, cis gender women are not choosing their categories for a reason. Because they make sense. I mean, sure, fairness."
She was asked how she feels watching Lia, who is at least a head taller than the women on the team, swim in meets.
"Frustration, frustration that this was allowed to happen," the female swimmer said. "The NCAA has never said anything about the situation, but by not saying anything, they were then discriminating against cis gender women."
She was asked if she felt discriminated against. "Oh, yes, yes, absolutely. I've been discriminated against and most of my teammates have too, and NCAA has allowed it to happen. And it's shameful."
"From my understanding, Lia still has male genitalia, is it a source of discomfort that she is in the locker room with you and others on the team?" The swimmer was asked.
"Yeah, it's definitely uncomfortable," she said. "And it's something that's been expressed to our coach and other members of the athletic department that people are uncomfortable with it. Especially like, back at the beginning of the season. It's something I know for fact that me and multiple of my teammates went to coach about. And we're just basically told to suck it up. And you know, to deal with it."
"That's the phrase that they used? 'Suck it up'?"
"Yeah," the female swimmer said.
If she could tell UPenn what she thought, she would tell the school to "do better, stop weak and afraid, do what's right: support women. I don't know why supporting women has become such a crazy concept. And you have just completely fallen on your knees to cancel culture and you've not even come close to doing your job. In fact, you've done the opposite of what you're supposed to do. And it's embarrassing."
She thinks UPenn has given in to cancel culture and fear, and that when the nation looks back at this moment in time, she said "we're gonna look at the people who were making these decisions, and we're in charge and kind of laugh at them. You had the power to change that and you chose not to, you're kind of a coward for that."
Thomas' teammate does not believe that Thomas should be competing against women at all. This as the NCAA swimming championships are slated to kick off in Atlanta next week.
"I do not think that we should be competing in those," the female swimmer said, "because there is now one less spot for a cis gender female who is of NCAA championship caliber, who will not get to compete and also, you know, Lia's going and you know, whatever he chooses, in whatever event she's in, there is no longer a fair and equitable playing field."
Thomas began taking drugs to effectuate a transition from presenting as a man to presenting as a woman in 2019. Thomas has taken estrogen to suppress testosterone levels, but after more than 30 months, Thomas' testosterone levels are likely still within the male average. Thomas had been on the men's team, but instead of taking top prizes while competing in that pool, Thomas placed in the 400s.
According to Mount Sinai, the male average is "300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) or 10 to 35 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L)," while for females, the range is "15 to 70 ng/dL or 0.5 to 2.4 nmol/L." The International Olympic Commission has stated that for a biological male to compete in women's sports, that male would need to have no more than 10 nanomules/liter. This is substantially higher than the amount of testosterone women naturally produce.