UPenn's Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas was surrounded by yet another controversy after some of her teammates said that they felt uncomfortable sharing a locker room with her. The swimmers said that despite being a trans woman, Thomas still has mail body parts and is attracted to women.
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.
Teammates Had a Glimpse of Thomas' Private Parts
Speaking to the Daily Mail, a swimmer from University of Pennsylvania and Thomas' teammate said that few members feel uncomfortable changing in the private space.
'It's definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,' said the unnamed swimmer. She even added that even though Thomas covers herself with towel, at times her private male parts are visible.
Stating that despite raising the issue several times, nothing has been done by the authorities. "Multiple swimmers have raised it, multiple different times. But we were basically told that we could not ostracize Lia by not having her in the locker room and that there's nothing we can do about it, that we basically have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our own locker room."
"It's really upsetting because Lia doesn't seem to care how it makes anyone else feel. The 35 of us are just supposed to accept being uncomfortable in our own space and locker room for, like, the feelings of one," the swimmer added.
Teammates Had Asked for a Separate Locker Room
Earlier, 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.
The swimmers stated that the university authorities were just focusing on making Thomas comfortable and neglecting their issues. "It just seems like the women who built this program and the people who were here before Lia don't matter. And it's frustrating because Lia doesn't really seem to be bothered by all the attention, not at all. Actually she seems like she enjoys it. It's affected all of us way more than it's affected her," added the swimmer.
After NCAA distanced itself from the controversy stating that the participation of transgenders will be decided by the respective sport's national governing body, USA Swimming, issued a statement revealing that they are considering a new policy. "USA Swimming firmly believes in inclusivity and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression,' USA Swimming stated last week.
"We also strongly believe in competitive equity, and, like many, are doing our best to learn and educate ourselves on the appropriate balance in this space," it added.