At the end of December, the NY Post reported that some of Lia Thomas’ University of Pennsylvania teammates were so upset they considered boycotting their final meet in protest:
A group of UPenn swimmers were so upset by transgender athlete Lia Thomas’ advantages that they mulled boycotting their final home meet — but decided not to for fear they’d be banned from the Ivy League championship, according to a report…
The source told the outlet that “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.”
Notice the bit about why they ultimately decided not to protest. They were afraid they’d be punished. Yesterday, 16 teammates of Lia Thomas sent a letter to officials effectively asking that she not be allowed to compete. However, they did so anonymously for fear of some kind of retaliation. The letter was sent instead by a former Olympic gold medalist on their behalf.
“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically,” the letter read. “However, we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female. If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women’s Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete.”
Thomas’s teammates did not identify themselves in the letter. It was sent by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist, lawyer and chief executive of Champion Women, a women’s sports advocacy organization. She said in a telephone interview that she sent the letter on the swimmers’ behalf so they could avoid retaliation; in the letter, the swimmers claim they were told “we would be removed from the team or that we would never get a job offer” if they spoke out against Thomas’s inclusion in women’s competition…
“When it became clear, all this new science was coming through, transgender advocates were saying: ‘Oh, but it’s never going to happen. Nobody’s ever going to come and break women’s records. … You’re not going to see that at the Olympics or at nationals.’ And then Lia came along. It just shows the need to update the NCAA rule.”
This isn’t the first time someone has made this argument. Last week, one member of the Penn swim team spoke anonymously to Fox News, saying Thomas had an unfair advantage but that a new decision by the NCAA had made her hopeful something would change.
The student, who spoke to Fox News Digital on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution, said she was “hopeful” after learning of the NCAA’s decision last week to update its policy of allowing transgender athletes to compete based on hormone levels.
“I’m a little bit more hopeful because I think that, at least as swimmers, we kind of realize that it’s not just testosterone levels,” she told Fox News. “It’s testosterone levels from the last 20 years and how that affected, you know, the fact that [Thomas] went through male puberty and the way that built her heart and lungs and her hands and the way she circulates blood and the lactic acid and all that stuff.”
“Stuff that – it’s not just the difference between two girls and how one might have slightly larger lungs and that gives them a slight advantage,” she continued, “These are monumental advantages that biological males just develop through puberty, and it’s not something that a year of [hormone treatments] can suppress because they still have all the muscle mass they had from the last 20 years.”
After that report, a group of Penn swimmers released a letter to ESPN siding with Thomas. The support letter was also anonymous and was said to have come from “several” Penn swimmers. How many is several? The Post reports the parent of one of the swimmers on the team says the letter represented just “two or three” women on the 39 member team.
On Thursday, the parent of a Penn swimmer, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation against their daughter, said in a telephone interview that they estimated the letter supporting Thomas was sent on behalf of only “two or three” swimmers.
The fact that all of this back-and-forth is happening anonymously is probably the most telling aspect. Everyone involved is afraid of having the cancel mob come after them.
As for what happens next, the new NCAA rules will create a stricter barrier for trans swimmers in the future, but those rules are being rolled out in three stages over the next several years. So for this season, the old rules still apply and Lia Thomas is already qualified to compete in the NCAA championship meet next month. If Thomas winds up breaking records in that meet set by top women swimmers, the NCAA will have to decide what to do about that later.