Jacob Pebley Urges Consideration of Mental Health in Transgender Swimming Debate

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Jacob Pebley; Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Jacob Pebley Urges Consideration of Mental Health in Transgender Swimming Debate

Olympic swimmer Jacob Pebley weighed in on the debate over transgender swimmers sparked by Penn’s Lia Thomas, advocating for a consideration of mental health for swimmers involved.

Pebley posted his comments to Instagram.

 

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Among his key points is the emphasis on the psychological side of things. He cited the high suicide rate in the transgender community and, incorporating his struggles with mental health, exhorted those weighing in on Thomas’ eligibility to swim to consider that. Pebley writes:

“I shudder to think what Lia is not only thinking about herself but also the young trans swimmers seeing their role models advocate for excluding them from competing in alignment with their identity. If you think the physiological advantage is so great, I urge you to consider the psychological disadvantage she and many others are facing currently.”

Pebley stressed that Thomas isn’t breaking any rules, and he disdained the “veiling (of) discrimination of a minority party with empathy and ‘understanding.’”

Thomas has sparked controversy with her performance in the pool this season. She’s set some of the times in distance events in the country in her first season on the women’s team after competing on the men’s team for three seasons. Her access to a male puberty in her upbringing has led to claims of competitive imbalance and dissent within the program. (Thomas has only granted one interview this season. Swimming World’s repeated attempts to talk to her have been turned down.)

Pebley, 28, has rarely shied away from commenting on issues in and out of the pool. He was one of the most prominent voices in the swimming community, along with Lia Neal via the Swimmers for Change platform, in the summer of 2020 in advancing athlete advocacy, particularly on issues of racial justice.

Pebley has been outspoken about his mental health struggles. After qualifying for the 2016 Olympics and finishing fifth in the 200 backstroke, he withdrew from Olympic Trials in 2021, citing his mental health. He returned and had a strong season in ISL with the D.C. Trident.

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SETH
10 months ago

Bravo Mr Pebley!

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Anonymous
10 months ago

There are many people who have done exactly what Peebley is suggesting. Many of us site the broken NCAA guidelines and ask for change there. That is what Hogshead-Makar did, what DeVarona did and many of us that are swimmers, swammers, coaches, officials and parents have done. Some outspoken ones aren’t so kind. But, by and large, people want the NCAA to make modifications to their policy that is clearly inadequate and to offer opportunities for trans athletes that don’t take women’s swimming back in time !!!

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Anonymous
10 months ago

Curious, as a media outlet has Swimming World reached out to NCAA officials for comment on this guideline? Have you asked them to explain how this is fair, and/or what are they going to do about it?

There is so much energy and debate among those who care about the situation, yet little if no reporting on communication between those who care and the NCAA.

A swift Twitter outcry about the Women’s NCAA basketball tournament training room (versus the men’s) seemed to get a lot of attention….

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Bernie
10 months ago

Lia is a man who thinks he’s a woman and takes drugs to address gender dysphoria. Lia should not be competing with women.

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Stuart
10 months ago

What about the mental health of the women?

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A
10 months ago
Reply to  Stuart

Thank you! That is exactly my question.
These girls have trained their while lives and then their opportunities are gone in an instant because a man has beaten them. It is clear that men are bigger, stronger and therefore faster. Maybe they need an other division. Same thing is happening to female runners.

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Jennifer Gingrich
10 months ago

What happened to my comment? I sent it but it didn’t appear here.

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Jennifer Gingrich
10 months ago

Why are men like Jacob Pebley never concerned in the least about the mental health effects on young women and girls who train and sacrifice but have no chance at all against male athletes, who will always be much faster and stronger due to anatomical advantages? Why do they never worry about how it affects those female athletes to lose team spots and scholarships and any chance of winning to males in female sports?

There is no actual evidence that trans ppl have a higher suicide rate than anyone else: all of those claims are based on anonymous internet surveys, and not on any actual medical data.

There is strong motivation for trans activists to inflate the statistics, as it is used constantly against women in this debate. Whenever women object to something like naturally stronger, faster men in their sports, they’re told “If you don’t let them compete as women, they might kill themselves”. Women are getting tired of being emotionally blackmailed into giving up our rights to things like our own sports.

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Gio
10 months ago

Ah, the irony of using that particular photo for this story…

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Mom
10 months ago

If Jacob really understood what women are feeling, he wouldn’t be making posts that accuse us of discrimination.