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Sixteen members of the Penn women's swim team ask the NCAA to protect them from men in women's sports

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Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team has finally had enough.

The sixteen members of the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team sent a letter to school and Ivy League officials asking them to prohibit Penn’s trans female swimmer from competing in the NCAA championships, reports the Washington Post.

“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,” wrote the swim team members, “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.”

Lia Thomas — formerly known as ‘Will’ — competed on men’s swim teams for years. He was even a part of the Penn men’s swim team before deciding to start taking hormones to try and transition into becoming a woman. Thomas, who is actively suppressing his testosterone levels, benefits immensely in competition since he has the skeletal and muscle structure of a grown man.

“Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in women’s category, as evidence by her ranking that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female,” the letter continues, “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.”

Likely fearing retribution, the women who wrote the letter did not attach their names or deliver it themselves. They had Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist, lawyer, and leading women’s sports advocate deliver it on their behalf.

In a phone interview, Hogshead-Makar confirmed that she sent the letter because the swimmers were told “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they spoke out against the inclusion of a man in women’s sports.

Previously, a father of a University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team member said that members of the team “realize that they will never, ever be able to beat” Thomas in competition. The father continued by stating that Thomas “is most likely going to be representing you and I and all other Americans at the Olympics,” since his success on the women’s team will prevent his female team members from earning spots on the Olympic women’s swim team.

Expressing dismay the father asked, “What do you say to your daughter? You got Lia up on the blocks, taking a spot from a cisgender woman on the Olympic team. How do I tell my daughter that could be you one day? You can’t. You can never be her.”

Recently, a team member of Thomas pointed out that despite Thomas having male genitalia, as he is a man, he shares a locker room with his female teammates.

The team member said, “It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women.”

“It’s really upsetting because Lia doesn’t seem to care how it makes anyone else feel,” the swimmer continued, “The 35 of us are just supposed to accept being uncomfortable in our own space and locker room for, like, the feelings of one.”

Both the father of the swim team member and the swimmer expressing concern over a man in the women’s locker room spoke on the condition of anonymity fearing that their statements would cause damage to the lives of themselves and their loved ones.

Hopefully, the team’s letter will encourage school and NCAA officials to enforce policies that treat these women fairly.

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