Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania, faces another battle after a group of parents demanded a change of rules which allowed her inclusion in the women's category. In a letter written to the NCAA, the parents stated that the integrity of women's sports is at stake.
Thomas, who competed as male at Penn University for three years, before his transition, recently created two national records in the women's 200-meter freestyle and 500-meter freestyle at the Zippy Invitational.
Thomas' Teammates Had Expressed Displeasure
Expressing their displeasure over the inclusion of transgender in the women's team, a teammate told OutKick that majority of the team members have expressed displeasure over the situation to their coach, Mike Schnur. "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 female Penn swimmer told the outlet.
"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 went on to add.
Speaking to Daily Mail, a woman swimmer from the Niagara University said that competing against Thomas, who joined the women's team after undergoing hormone treatments for nearly two and a half years, was intimidating and discouraging.
"Swimming against Lia Thomas was intimidating. It was hard going into a race knowing there was no way I was going to get first. I knew I could drop my time but I also knew there was no way I would physically be able to beat her in the race or even catch up to her,' the athlete said.
'Parents and Swimmers are Scared'
In a letter written to the NCAA, parents of around 10 swimmers said that a wrong precedent is being set. "At stake here is the integrity of women's sports. The precedent being set â one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete â 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?" read the letter according to Daily Mail.
"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. And it is unfair and irresponsible to Lia to allow the media to dictate the narrative without the participation of the NCAA," it read further.
Speaking to the outlet, a parent expressed his concern about openly speaking up against the issue. "The swimmers have mixed feelings. Many of them want to speak up, but they don't because they believe they'll be ostracized. Everybody is scared,' the parent added. "Parents are also scared that the kids will be harmed. We are paying $80,000 for this school. Their life will be impacted."