Half of Lia Thomas’ Teammates Oppose Trans Swimmer on Women’s Team

Lia Thomas has unquestionably found success in the pool while competing for the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swimming team.

But even despite Thomas’ record-breaking championship season, some of her teammates are not in favor of her competing by their side because she’s transgender.

In a feature on Thomas published in Sports Illustrated, sources close to Penn’s team estimate that out of 37 total members of the squad, only six to eight were “adamant supporters” of the senior star who competed on the men’s team for her first three years of college. About half of the team, author Robert Sanchez writes, “opposes her competing against other women,” while the remaining members “have steered clear of the debate.”Shortly after a group of teammates issued a public message of support on Thomas’ “value as a person, teammate, and friend,” a second segment of Penn’s women’s team wrote an anonymous letter to the Ivy League requesting that their teammate be excluded from their upcoming conference championship meet.

“If she were to be eligible to compete, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA women’s swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete,” the letter read, per Sports Illustrated.

The Ivy League reiterated that Thomas would be able to participate. She went on to win the Ivy League championships in the 100-, 200-, and 500-meter freestyle races and helped Penn to its first-ever victory in the women’s 400-meter relay.As detailed in the Sports Illustrated piece, Thomas’ teammates are far from the only ones pushing back against her inclusion in competitive women’s sporting events. From casual swimming fans to the biggest names in the sport, plenty of people have expressed their concerns about transgender athletes compromising the integrity of women’s sports.

And some of those pushing back on Thomas’ participation believe that she deserves to be treated with the “respect and dignity” any other woman is afforded. But as one anonymous, self-described progressive parent of a Penn swimmer stated: “It’s not transphobic to say I disagree with where she’s swimming.”



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