Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas refuses to cover up her male genitalia in female locker rooms, according to some of her UPenn swim squad teammates, who have admitted they feel “uncomfortable” changing in the private space with a transgender woman who dates women.
‘It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,’ one of Thomas’ teammates revealed to the Daily Mail.
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The swimmer said that multiple teammates have raised their concerns with the coach, trying to get Thomas, who competed on UPenn’s men’s swim team until 2019, ousted from the female locker room.
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‘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,‘ she said.
Instead of removing Thomas from the female locker room, UPenn offered mental health services to female swimmers.
‘It’s really upsetting because Lia doesn’t seem to care how it makes anyone else feel,‘ the swimmer continued. ‘The 35 of us are just supposed to accept being uncomfortable in our own space and locker room for, like, the feelings of one.’
DailyMail report: She said UPenn’s handling of the locker room issue is emblematic of the school’s overall approach to the Lia Thomas controversy, with school bending over backwards to make Thomas feel welcome without seeming to care how it affects her teammates.
‘The school was so focused on making sure Lia was okay, and doing everything they possibly could do for her, that they didn’t even think about the rest of us,’ the teammate said.
‘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.’
The school released a terse statement last month that it was offering mental health services to student-athletes.
Thomas, 22, plans to break her longtime silence and exclusively share her story with Sports Illustrated, it was announced Wednesday.
The NCAA, which set rules allowing transgender athletes to compete after completing a year of hormone therapy, recently washed its hands of the row, announcing that transgender participation will now be determined by each sport’s national governing body.
In Thomas’ case, this would fall under USA Swimming, which is 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.‘
The swimmer welcomed USA Swimming’s involvement.
‘I’m actually happy that the NCAA passed the buck because USA Swimming is more conservative and they have stakes in the game,’ she said. ‘These are people who swam their whole lives, who have kids and daughters who swim, and they see what this is doing to the swim community.‘
She said she hopes any changes come before the NCAA championship in March, where Thomas has a chance to break all-time NCAA records set by Olympic gold medalists Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.
‘It’s definitely important that we don’t set this precedent,’ she said. ‘I think it’s important that women and also little girls aren’t looking up and saying, well, I don’t actually have a chance to win.’
She said the ‘equitable thing‘ would be to create an ‘open category‘ allowing transgender swimmers to compete on the men’s team.
‘That would allow Lia to still compete without having to take on that title of ‘men’s competition,’ while still allowing females the space they need to have fair competition,‘ she said.
Thomas, who was on the UPenn men’s team during her first three years, has been blowing women’s swimming records out of the water.
Her domination has prompted some of her teammates to voice their concerns, but without being named.
The swimmer who spoke with DailyMail.com said only two or three members actually support the status quo. Still, most others are scared to speak out, with the school prohibiting students from talking to the media.
‘There are a lot of cowards who don’t want to cause any kind of conflict or worry that they might get looked at the wrong way,‘ she said.
As for herself, she said, ‘If this gets a little bit bigger, I might go on the record, but I’m definitely a little afraid. What I’m afraid of is that potential employers will Google my name and see commentary about things I said and think, oh, this person’s transphobic.‘