Parents angered at the NCAA for letting Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, compete and dominate in women’s swimming competitions have fired off a letter to the college athletic governing body pressing for a change in rules.
The letter came after Thomas, a transgender student at the Ivy League institution who swam for three years as a male, blasted through female competitors at the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries and finals at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron earlier this month.
Thomas broke an Ivy League record with a 4:34.06 finish in the finals while going on to set new school records for females in the 1,650-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle competitions.
After swimming as a male, Thomas’ outsized success on the female squad has led to renewed criticism of allowing transgender women to compete against biological females, according to DailyMail.com.
The outlet noted that parents of 10 swimmers wrote to the NCAA, the Ivy League, and UPenn athletics officials regarding their concerns about keeping integrity in female collegiate sporting events.
“At stake here is the integrity of women’s sports. The precedent being set – one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete – is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA’s commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes?” said the letter, according to DailyMail.com.
“It is the responsibility of the NCAA to address the matter with an official statement. As the governing body, it is unfair and irresponsible to leave the onus on Lia, Lia’s teammates, Lia’s coaches, UPenn athletics and the Ivy League,” the letter continued. “And it is unfair and irresponsible to Lia to allow the media to dictate the narrative without the participation of the NCAA.”
The NCAA did not respond to the letter, which was dated Dec. 5, according to the outlet. However, UPenn did respond.
“Please know that we fully support all our swimming student-athletes and want to help our community navigate Lia’s success in the pool this winter,” the university said. “Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff and we hold true to that commitment today and in the future.
“We’ve encouraged our student-athletes to utilize the robust resources available to them at Penn, and I’d like to share them with you as well.”
According to current NCAA rules, trans women cannot compete with biological women until after they undergo testosterone suppression treatment for a year. Recently, Thomas rebuffed critics in an interview, declaring the rules to be fair while they “promote competition integrity.”
“The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports,” the NCAA noted in April. “This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.”
Last week, a female teammate of Thomas dished to Outkick, suggesting that most others on the squad are not happy with the situation but are afraid to speak out publicly.
“Pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this. Our coach [Mike Schnur] just really likes winning. He’s like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it’s the wrong thing to do,” the teammate said.
“When the whole team is together, we have to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, go Lia, that’s great, you’re amazing.’ It’s very fake,” she continued.
The female teammate requested anonymity because “she feared for her ability to find employment after graduating from college” for being honest about a transgender teammate, Outkick noted.
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