5.9k Share this
Sharing a locker room with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has become a point of contention for some of her University of Pennsylvania teammates, who feel uncomfortable changing in the private space with someone undergoing gender transition, the DailyMail.com can reveal.
‘It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,’ one swimmer on the team told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
Lia has told her teammates that she dates women.
While Lia covers herself with a towel sometimes, there’s a decent amount of nudity, the swimmer said. She and others have had a glimpse at her private parts.
She stated that team members have raised their concern with the coach, trying to get Thomas ousted from the female locker room, but got nowhere.
‘Multiple swimmers have raised it, multiple different times,’ the UPenn swimmer said. ‘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 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.’
One of Lia Thomas’ teammates tells DailyMail.com they feel uncomfortable sharing a locker room with the transgender UPenn swimmer. ‘It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,’ she said
Thomas’ teammate said, ‘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’
‘Multiple swimmers have raised it, multiple different times,’ the UPenn swimmer said. ‘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.’ UPenn women’s swimmers and divers relax at the beach in January 2020. Lia Thomas is circled
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.
She stated that team members have raised their concern with the coach, trying to get Thomas ousted from the female locker room, but got nowhere. Coach Mike Schnur is pictured
‘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 told DailyMail.com.
‘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 who spoke with DailyMail.com 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.’
Thomas was accused of purposefully holding back when she narrowly won two races and lost during a 100-yard freestyle race to Yale transgender swimmer Iszac Henig on January 8
Thomas previously competed on UPenn men’s swim team for three years as Will before transitioning in 2019 (pictured in 2016 and 2017, respectively)
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.’
Protestors stood outside Lia Thomas’ January 8 swim meet. The women are with the group the Revfem Rebellion
Thomas is seen at a January 8 meet in the 100 freestyle race. She came in 5th place as seen in Lane 2
She and teammates also discussed the possibility of protesting at a swim meet, but ultimately decided that was too risky.
‘We’ve all tried to think of anything we could do, but I just don’t know what we could do that wouldn’t basically have us not be swimming,’ she said. ‘We already lost a year due to covid and people don’t want to put their own swim careers on hold.’
Thomas turned heads in December when she put in an astounding performance at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio, finishing the 1,650-yard freestyle 38 seconds ahead of her teammate Anna Sofia Kalandaze.
Then at the following meet January 8, Thomas was accused of purposefully holding back when she narrowly won two races and lost during a 100-yard freestyle race to Yale transgender swimmer Iszac Henig.
A UPenn swimmer, in an interview with Outkick.com, accused her teammate of plotting to lose to the Yale swimmer in a relay heat to ‘prove that a woman can beat her.’
‘Looking at (Lia’s) time, I don’t think she was trying,’ she told Outkick. ‘I know they’re friends and I know they were talking before the meet. I think she (Thomas) let her win to prove the point that, ”Oh see, a female-to-male beat me.”
Source: Daily Mail