16 UPenn Swimmers Issue Letter Supporting Rule That Would Prevent Transgender Teammate Lia Thomas From Competing

Lia Thomas has broken multiple records since she began swimming for UPenn's women's team last year, after swimming on the men's team for three years.

Swimmer Lia Thomas at a recent Ivy League meet

Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

Swimmer Lia Thomas at a recent Ivy League meet

Sixteen student athletes on the University of Pennsylvania swim team had their names attached to a letter sent to both the school itself and the Ivy League, asking for legal action to not be taken regarding the NCAA’s new transgender athlete policies, per CNN

CEO of Champion Women Nancy Hogshead-Makar wrote the letter on behalf of the swimmers, touching on the policies that could prevent Thomas from competing in the NCAA tournament. This season, Thomas—who was previously on the men’s team— has won the women’s 100 and 200-yard freestyle races at Harvard last month, doing so in record times.

“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 reads. “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.”

The new policy will require trans athletes to undergo testosterone testing twice during the 2022-23 academic year, as well as for four weeks before championship selections. The guidelines have been approved by the NCAA Board of Governors. The Ivy League claimed it doesn’t “publicly respond to letters submitted to our office,” while the school’s athletics department said it is willing to work with the NCAA so that Thomas can take part in the March championship. 

Not all of Thomas’ teammates are opposed to her competing. The 

“We want to express our full support for Lia in her transition,” members of the team said in a statement after anonymous negative comments about Thomas were published by various outlets. “We value her as a person, teammate, and friend. The sentiments put forward by an anonymous member of our team are not representative of the feelings, values, and opinions of the entire Penn team, composed of 39 women with diverse backgrounds.”

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