A group of female swimmers for the University of Pennsylvania were so upset at having to compete against transgender Lia Thomas, who swam on the school’s men’s team for three years before becoming a transgender this past year, that they considered boycotting their final home meet.
Thomas, 22, has smashed female records throughout this swim season and is set to beat times set by Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin, two of the best female swimmers of all time. He has been allowed to do so by the NCAA because he underwent one year of testosterone-suppressing hormone therapy.
However, several of Thomas’s female teammates have spoken out anonymously, saying they believe it is unfair they are being forced to compete against someone with such an obvious physical advantage.
Many of these women even considered boycotting their last home meet, according to the Daily Mail, because “they’ve 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,” a source close to the team said.
Ultimately, however, the girls decided against boycotting the meet out of fear that skipping the event would jeopardize their ability to participate in the Ivy League championship in February.
“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,” the source said. “These girls are still determined to make sure they get the proper recognition and that their moment is celebrated as it should be.”
A parent of one of the swimmers encouraged the girls to protest in other ways.
“If it were me, I’d step up with a sign on my chest stating something like, ‘NCAA – Speak up. We need answers,’” the parent said. “But it’s possible the swimmers may end up doing nothing because they are so afraid to be perceived as transphobic.”