Women collegiate swimmers speak about disadvantages competing against transgender athlete Lia Thomas
Some women collegiate swimmers are speaking out about the difficulties of competing against the transgender University of Pennsylvania athlete Lia Thomas.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association decided to allow Thomas, who had competed until Nov. 2019 as a man, to compete as a woman in 2021 after one year of taking testosterone blockers. Thomas has broken multiple national women's swimming records.
Saint Louis University swimmer Ingrid Rosko told Campus Reform: "In general, the top percentage of times are faster for male swimmers than female swimmers… There are exceptions to that rule, but there is a physiological difference there that can be seen in the overall performance of athletes."
She said gender-segregated competition "allows both men and women to compete at the highest level possible and be recognized for it."
“I’ve spent my college career watching young women on our team hunt down records, missing by hundredths of seconds year after year, and then finally getting one by the skin of their teeth," she said. "If a guy on my team decided that they wanted to identify as a woman, they would automatically have our records by a significant margin without having to train any harder. That strikes me as unfair."
University of Kentucky swimmer Kaelan Daly told Campus Reform: "I think there’s no right answer yet that balances allowing athletes to be themselves while also giving everyone a level playing field."
USA Swimming referee Cynthia Millen resigned in protest of Thomas.
Iconic athletes including have also spoken out. Olympic gold medal swimmer Nancy Hogshead-Makar wrote an op-ed for The Daily Mail.
"As an Olympic champion and as a civil rights lawyer, I can assure you that there is nothing fair about transgender woman Lia Thomas competing for the University of Pennsylvania in NCAA swimming," Hogshead-Makar stated.
The Daily Mail op-ed received support from Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies and tennis stars Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.
Thomas is set to swim on Saturday at UPenn's final home event of the season. The swim meet reportedly will take place behind closed doors in front of few spectators, allegedly due to concerns about COVID-19.