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.
Thomas, 22, who has smashed several records at the University of Pennsylvania this season, has sparked outrage for being eligible under NCAA rules to swim in women’s collegiate events after taking one year of testosterone suppressants.
A source close to the team of 41 women who considered the boycott told the Daily Mail that “they’ve been ignored by both Penn and the NCAA.”
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.”
But after considering boycotting their Jan. 8 meet against Dartmouth, the swimmers decided against it out of concern that skipping the event would jeopardize their participation in the Ivy League championship in February, according to the report.
“Knowing they do not have backing from the school or NCAA, they’re reluctant to jeopardize their opportunity to make the elite Ivy League squad,” the source told outlet.
Other sources told the Daily Mail that the controversy will likely take center stage at the Jan. 8 event, which is traditionally a time for seniors to enjoy the limelight.
“It’s a very emotional day and it’s supposed to be a wonderful recognition for all the seniors have accomplished over the years,” a source told the outlet.
“These girls are still determined to make sure they get the proper recognition and that their moment is celebrated as it should be,” the source added.
A parent of one of the swimmers suggested protesting in other ways.
“If it were me, I’d step up with a sign on my chest stating something like, ‘NCAA – Speak up. We need answers,’” they told the Daily Mail. “But it’s possible the swimmers may end up doing nothing because they are so afraid to be perceived as transphobic.”
Earlier this month, Thomas blew away her competition in the 500-yard freestyle preliminaries and finals at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron. In the finals, she notched a winning time of 4:34.06 — good enough for a new Ivy League record.
Another source told the Daily Mail that Thomas will likely blow away the upcoming competition.
“It’ll be like the last couple meets. Lia will finish and nobody will give a s—. Then when the first biological female finishes, there will be a huge eruption of applause,” the source said.
Thomas has said she’s taking an ongoing regimen of estrogen and testosterone blockers. Before her transition, she competed for three years at Penn as a man.
It is unknown when Thomas transitioned from male to female, but the swimmer competed as a man as recently as November 2019. NCAA rules mandate at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment to be eligible to compete as a woman.