News & Politics

Outraged Parents Lash Out at NCAA Over Transgender Swimmer's Dominance

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

After biological male transgender swimmer Lia Thomas dominated women’s events at the Zippy Invitational at the University of Akron earlier this month, athletes have expressed their frustrations at the fact that a man pretending to be a woman is setting records and overshadowing actual women in NCAA competitions.

Last week here at PJ Media, my esteemed colleague Robert Spencer noted that Thomas’ fellow swimmers — the real women swimmers of the University of Pennsylvania — are secretly unhappy with their teammate.

Behind the façade of joy and pride in Thomas’ accomplishments is growing discontent with the devaluation of women’s athletics that the participation of men who are pretending to be women has brought about. One UPenn swimmer, who is remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, revealed Thursday that “pretty much everyone individually has spoken to our coaches about not liking this. Our coach [Mike Schnur] just really likes winning. He’s like most coaches. I think secretly everyone just knows it’s the wrong thing to do. When the whole team is together, we have to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, go Lia, that’s great, you’re amazing.’ It’s very fake.”

Thomas’ fellow swimmer points out that his command of the swimming lanes is even more unnatural because Penn isn’t exactly an NCAA swimming powerhouse.

Thomas’ outspoken teammate put all this in context: “The Ivy League is not a fast league for swimming, so that’s why it’s particularly ridiculous that we could potentially have an NCAA champion. That’s unheard of coming from the Ivy League. On paper, if Lia Thomas gets back down to Will Thomas’ best times, those numbers are female world records. Faster than all the times Katie Ledecky went in college. Faster than any other Olympian you can think of. His times in three events are [female] world records.”

And now it’s not just the female swimmers who have issues with him. A group of parents has sent a letter to the NCAA and the University of Pennsylvania detailing their concerns about having a biologically male swimmer tower so far above the females against whom he is competing.

“At stake here is the integrity of women’s sports,” the group of 10 parents wrote. “The precedent being set — one in which women do not have a protected and equitable space to compete — is a direct threat to female athletes in every sport. What are the boundaries? How is this in line with the NCAA’s commitment to providing a fair environment for student-athletes?”

The Daily Mail reports why the parents are so concerned for their daughters on the swim team.

One parent, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions for herself and her daughter, told DailyMail.com, ‘The swimmers have mixed feelings. Many of them want to speak up, but they don’t because they believe they’ll be ostracized.

‘Everybody is scared,’ the mom added. ‘Parents are also scared that the kids will be harmed. We are paying $80,000 for this school. Their life will be impacted.’

The letter went to both the NCAA and the university on Dec. 5. The NCAA has yet to respond, but the University of Pennsylvania weighed in. The school’s brief reply centered on the acceptance of all athletes — especially Thomas — and invoked that magical liberal totem of inclusivity.

“Please know that we fully support all our swimming student-athletes and want to help our community navigate Lia’s success in the pool this winter,” the school stated. “Penn Athletics is committed to being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our student-athletes, coaches and staff and we hold true to that commitment today and in the future.”

Related: Yes, Transgender Athletes Have an Advantage In Girls’ Sports: Here’s Proof

What might be the most galling part of the school’s response is the mention of mental health resources for these female athletes.

“We’ve encouraged our student-athletes to utilize the robust resources available to them at Penn, and I’d like to share them with you as well,” the school wrote the parents, providing links to ‘counseling and psychological services, the LGBT Center, Restorative Practices and our Center for Student-Athlete Success staff.”

Yes, you’re reading that right. These young women and their parents are upset that a man is beating them at women’s sports. But they’re the ones who need to sign up for counseling and LGBT education.

These collegiate swimmers needed compassion and understanding, but UPenn showered them with condescension.

As of this writing, UPenn isn’t in the Top 25, but Thomas will automatically be able to compete in the national championship meet in Atlanta this coming March. And there’s no reason to doubt that he will continue to dominate.

And the NCAA won’t do a thing about it.