Olympian Erika Brown: ‘We Cannot Allow Transgender Females to Compete Against Biological Women’

Jul 29, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Erika Brown (USA) looks up at the timing board after competing in the women's 100m freestyle semifinal during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA TODAY Sports

Olympian Erika Brown: ‘We Cannot Allow Transgender Females to Compete Against Biological Women’

Three weeks after the Lia Thomas controversy first emerged in the national spotlight, an active athlete has spoken out against the involvement of Thomas in women’s sports. Via her Instagram account, Erika Brown, a member of Team USA at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, expressed that biological women are at a disadvantage when racing against transgender women. At the end of her Instagram post, Brown said she hopes her willingness to speak out will lead to others speaking out as well.

“I want to share something that’s been on my heart regarding what is going on in USA Swimming at the moment. I believe that we are all God’s children and we are called to love one another. I don’t want to create any hate, only speak up for what is right.

“We cannot allow transgender females to compete against biological women. A biological male goes through male puberty. Even when she has transitioned, she still has the physiology of a male. A few years of testosterone blockers and estrogen doesn’t change the fact that she will have more powerful muscles, a larger heart and greater lung capacity (than) a biological woman.

“It’s time to start standing up for women’s sports, before we (lose) what so many before us have fought for. I hope that this can help inspire others to speak up.”

Thomas was a member of the men’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania before transitioning to female. After a year without Ivy League sports, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas is competing on the women’s team this year and has the No. 1 times in the country in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

Although several Penn swimmers have expressed their displeasure with Thomas competing as a member of the women’s team, none have spoken out. Parents of the swimmers, though, have written to the NCAA and Penn to details their concerns. Thomas, who has undergone hormone-suppressant therapy, is in accordance with NCAA rules. However, data shows that her male-puberty advantage has not been mitigated.

45 comments

  1. avatar
    Anonymous

    Thank you Erika for speaking out. It is fabulous that Nancy Hogshead lead the way but the WOMEN in the POOL NOW need to speak out.

    I have said many times, Lia should swim to her hearts content ! Race to her hearts content. Train hard. Compete fiercely. But please swim exhibition now, until there is a long term solution.

    • avatar
      Erika B.

      Average group stats don’t predict individual performance. Also, let’s start banning all tall big women from “female sport” and short and small men from mensch sport. It’s only fair in terms of performance advantage. Will that appease all the transphobic bigots concerns about fixing fairness so they can ein sports they actually just suck at and eine about?

      • avatar
        Amanda W.

        A big tall woman is still not built like a big tall man. There are physiological differences between males and females. Biologically our bodies are made for being good at different things. It is also worth noting that just because someone is supportive of preserving girls and women’s sports doesn’t mean they are transphobic. That’s quite a large leap there. I could argue that one is Cisphobic for wanting to allow trans women to compete against cis women but that would obviously be ridiculous. You don’t have to hate one group because you are trying to advocate for the rights of another.

      • avatar
        Samuel D Knight

        Men will always be men and women will always be women, your miss placed feelings will never change that fact.. I’m sure this also hurt your feelings..

      • avatar
        Peter

        Wow. How typical. A reasonable argument is shouted down as “transphobic” and bigoted. Ideology trumps facts. In the meantime, transgender athletes are ruining women’s sports, and women’s sports, which have always struggled for viewers, will be watched even less.

        BTW, I’ve had transgender friends. But I never thought they should compete in sport against biological women.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        You’re either a man or woman at birth. Biology explains that

      • avatar
        Kim T

        Ok, that is one of the stupidest statements, I have ever heard! It has NOTHING to do with stature! It has EVERYTHING to do with biology! In case you haven’t already noticed, WOMEN (of ALL sizes) are built differently than men (of ALL sizes)! Center of gravity (men /upper body, women/lower body), muscle development (testosterone vs estrogen)! It has nothing to do with transphobia and everything to do with fairness! Even if Lia had been taking testosterone blockers and HRT since childhood, she would still have the SAME bone structure and musculature of a MAN! Thus, in many cases, she/he would have the advantage over genetically born women! You might want to educate yourself so the next time you open your mouth you don’t sound so ignorant!

      • avatar
        Kim T

        My last post was for Erika B’s ignorant comment!

      • avatar
        Ari

        A man is still a man. Haven’t you heard the expression “fight like a man”, that correlates to strength. If two top athletes, one male and the other female compete against each other, most likely the man will win. Also I have a question for you, Did Lia Thomas always win when he competed against males? I don’t know his stats but I had no idea who he was until he joined the female team. Lol

      • avatar
        Micah C

        I think that “Lia” was not winning races on the male’s team and is just taking advantage of all of this “wokeness” on pronouns and whatnot so he/she could maybe start winning(and stealing) races. This stuff has gotten so out of hand that it is absolutely rediculous and absurd! I’m old school…none of this makes sense to me!! All of this could be avoided by just keeping things the way they were…when America was Great!

  2. avatar
    Anonymous swim parent

    Thank you for speaking out on this! I hope your post will encourage more to speak up and rules will be changed and not allow this. I think changing the Men’s category to be called Open makes the most sense and everyone who’s not a biological female can swim in that one.

  3. avatar
    Stephanie

    Wait, did she lose in the Olympics to a trans woman? Has anyone in the Olympics ever lost to a trans woman in the last 17 years in any competition? Nope! What about NCAA Division 1? Past 12 years has any trans woman won a championship? Nope! How about the US Open, since they’ve allowed trans women since 1976, for 45 years? No, no trans woman has ever won an event in the US Open. Hmmmm. Seems we have 73 years of cumulative data showing trans women are not winning at the highest levels. So why all the rancor here? One word … DISCRIMINATION!

    • avatar
      Caleb

      This has only become an issue recently because over the course of history they’ve not allowed biological men to swim in women’s events until the last few years. So of course it wasn’t an issue back then. NOW it very much is. Did you miss the part where it says Lia has the top times in the nation in the 200 and 500 free? Those times wouldn’t even make a D1 travel squad on a mens team.

      Now that it’s at the top level like it currently is with Lia then she’s literally edging out people for Championships, scholarships, endorsements, possible future Olympic spots and the life changing press/opportunities that come with that. Need to nip this in the bud before it gets out of hand (one can argue it already is). Her teammates too have anonymously come out and said they don’t like it either. So yeah…who is this actually benefitting? The gutless NCAA is stepping on the toes of thousands to avoid stepping on the toes of a handful who are going to ruin it for everyone else.

    • avatar
      Mike

      This is another gender activist *Lie by omission*.

      Trans women have not been allowed to compete against biological females until around the last 5 years, and you know it. In 2015, the IOC changed the rules for the Olympics which suddenly allowed Trans women to compete with laughably unfair, bare minimum requirements (a year of hormone therapy, no surgery). There has only been one Olympic games since then.
      However, Trans women have been taking gold and breaking female records in a wide variety of sports since. Running, hurdles, weightlifting, cycling, BMX etc.
      You know what has NEVER happened? A Trans man (female to male) has NEVER won anything of note against a biological male athlete. Not a single gold medal, not a single record destroyed. And you know this Stephanie. You know there is an advantage. You just believe a certain percentage of female athletes should smile and hold their heads down while they give up their dreams after years of hard work, tolerating obvious unfairness to validate the gender ideology of someone else.

      • avatar
        SETH

        Yes Stephanie! Finally another voice of reason, fairness and inclusion. Diversity, tolerance, acceptance, and love will win the day, and possibly a few races too!

      • avatar
        Kathleen Jenson

        Mike your points are great. No one seems to mention the trans males. It is supposedly so terrible for a swimmer like Lia to have to compete as a male that she has to be allowed to compete unfairly against women. But if it is so traumatic for a trans to compete against the sex of their birth, isn’t it even worse for the trans males? They are forced to compete against the females or obviously they wouldn’t even be able to compete at all. How come all of this always involves biological males taking the places and records of biological females, whether it is in sports, politics or even a champion of Jeopardy?

    • avatar
      Mary

      You must be trans. Your picture looks masculine. It’s utter nonsense. Discrimination my foot. Says the man who has discriminated against women for millenia and now wants to be one and claims women are discriminating against him because he wants to have a distinct advantage over her. Haven’t women fought long enough for their own representation in sports? Now this bull crap. Unbelievable!

      • avatar
        SprintHalo

        Stephanie can not be reasoned with. She is a religious zealot of Intersectionality. I reasonable proof can be provided by any of you that will make her listen.

        Saying humans are essentially “born into the wrong body” is akin to saying they are possessed by a demon soul. It’s pseudoscientific and completely wrong. Fanatics cannot use reason in arguments that challenge their worldview. It is an act of faith that must be adhered to despite any evidence to the contrary.

      • avatar
        SETH

        “ You must be trans. Your picture looks masculine.”

        The above quote is the nonsense.

    • avatar
      Ane

      The point is Lia is a male and ‘she’ should not be competing against females.

    • avatar
      Terri Lipanovic

      A man would say that

    • avatar
      Hollie

      Did you not see their times? Smashing every single race he was in. A year of suppressing hormones does nothing to negate a male puberty, this the same with all sports. There needs to be another way so women and girls don’t miss out on podium places, scholarships and other shortlists. Just because they haven’t made the Olympics doesn’t mean they won’t. This early days of TW inclusion and it doesn’t work, it’s unfair to women.

      • avatar
        Carrie

        Create a new event for trans. Give them their own event and quit stealing our girls dreams

    • avatar
      JR

      Not the point. Every trans woman on a women’s team has taken the place of a biological woman.

    • avatar
      Tim Arsenault

      Brilliant! Steroids are ok too, because steroid users don’t always win!

    • avatar
      Kathleen Jenson

      It is just beginning. The trans women are poised to take over women’s records. Why do you want to wait to do anything about it? Are you a trans woman? It is clearly unfair for biological men to compete against biological women. When an average male swimmer like Lia Thomas transitions to a woman and suddenly becomes elite, you know there is a problem there. But you want to wait until women’s sports are destroyed before anyone can say anything.

    • avatar
      David

      On average the time difference between elite male and female swimmers is 12%.
      Thomas’s times from a year ago when he competed on the men’s team are only 3% slower.
      For anyone to think that a year of hormonal therapy will take away Years of growth as a male is absurd

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      You’re either a man or woman. You can’t always have what you want

  4. avatar
    ADS

    Hi Stephanie – you shout ‘discrimination’ as though that’s the be all and end all of this debate. And you do so in order to delegitimise and stigmatise those who take a different view to yourself. But of course it is discrimination. Discrimination between physiological males and females is the foundation of women’s sports, and that is the case in order to allow biological women the same opportunities as biological men. Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports undercuts the foundation of sport and discriminates against biological females. You want to say that that is OK because there is no evidence of continuing advantage. To make that point you have to close your eyes to the self-evident reality, proffer meaningless ‘data’ as though it were relevant, and expose yourself as a misguided ideologue. In general, the relevant data shows that the physical advantage enjoyed by biological males is in excess of 10%, and that that advantage is not nearly mitigated by adherence to the existing NCAA rules. All you are saying is that no highly competent transwomen has tested the tolerance of the sporting category. But now it is being tested, and the unfairness is palpable.

    Most people who take the view that women’s sports should be protected have every sympathy with Lia and recognise the detriment to her and other transwomen that their position entails. But they consider that the greater harm flows from the current situation. Very obviously so. This is not least the case because there are other options open to transwomen who want to participate in sports.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Spot on

    • avatar
      Diana

      Minimally the rules need to be made such that anyone who has competed at certain higher levels post-puberty before transitioning is not eligible after transitioning. I absolutely support a person’s right to transition and live their life as whatever gender they choose. That doesn’t impact anyone unfairly. But when you allow them to participate in the same high level sports they trained in prior to transition, or even adjacent sports, it then affects others and is unfair.

    • avatar
      Stuart

      Great comment!

  5. avatar
    Swim Mom of a Boy

    Lia wasn’t an average, or even below average male swimmer. She is swimming lower than her personal best times, but from a previous Swimming World story “While she is swimming slower than her lifetime bests from her time on the men’s swim team, she has already achieved “A” cuts for the NCAA Championships. In fact, Thomas has already swum times in two events faster than the winning times at last year’s NCAAs. In Akron, Thomas swam a times of 4:34.06 in the 500 free (seven tenths ahead of Arizona State’s Emma Nordin as the country’s top swimmer), 1:41.93 in the 200 free (six tenths clear of Stanford’s Torri Huske for the No. 1 spot) and 15:59.71 in the 1650 free (sixth in the country)”.

    So Stephanie, she will win NCAA’s D1. She will take a spot at the Ivy Championships from a biological female. She has the benefit of going through male puberty, and gain the advantage that testosterone has over bio females. Some studies suggest that one year of hormone replacement therapy is too short. Some US military studies show that most biological males see some benefits of being born male well into two years of hormone replacement therapy.
    Lia should be allowed to continue the sport she loves, but she shouldn’t be allowed to take a spot from a biological female.

  6. avatar
    Ryan

    I hope Thomas inspires 20 others and that the Women’s swim team is all-male at the next Olympics and breaks every single record. I hope 6 or seven men transition and join the WNBA and dunk all over everyone and so on. This needs to become a total joke so that crazy left-wingers can finally see it for what it is. The disrespect for Women inherent in this supposed push for equality is stunning. I hope Olympians all over the world send men to the Olympics and walk over the US 2-4 years from now. We should reap what we’ve sewn.

    • avatar
      Diana

      I am 100% supportive of transgender individuals who wish to transition and live their lives as whichever gender they want. I do draw the line at top level sports, especially when the transition happens after puberty. Witness Renee Richards, who was a middling D1 male tennis player and transitioned around age 40, then played pro womens tennis in her mid40s and had wins over the top women who were 20 years younger (and this was when players retired by age 30 usually). She has said if she transitioned in her 20s, no female would have been able to beat her. That’s what you are seeing here with swimming. Whenever someone has competed at a high level as male, they should be disallowed from competing at that level as female. They can live their lives as female in every other way without impacting others, but when it does impact others, it becomes unfair.

  7. avatar
    Laurie

    Lia is a man, he is not a “she” and never will be. Human sex is binary and immutable, period. Sports are divided into male and female sexed categories and should stay that way. Men who identify as women should race as men, or form their own category.

  8. avatar
    Allison

    It’s always interesting when people point out Lia’s times are slower than her personal best swimming for the mens team. Obviously they aren’t involved in swimming or they would know that it’s mid season, untappered, unshaven, and not at peak race performance. Wait until NCAA, when the records of Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky go down. Maybe then people will see. Or wait for 3 years at the 2024 Olympics, when Lia takes a spot from Katie Grimes, or Bella Sims or even Katie Ledecky, maybe then they will see. Or maybe they will have a daughter like I do, a swimmer and athlete who dreams of swimming in college, only to lose a spot on a roster or a scholarship for a D1 school, maybe then they will see.

  9. avatar
    Hollie

    Did you not see their times? Smashing every single race he was in. A year of suppressing hormones does nothing to negate a male puberty, this the same with all sports. There needs to be another way so women and girls don’t miss out on podium places, scholarships and other shortlists. Just because they haven’t made the Olympics doesn’t mean they won’t. This early days of TW inclusion and it doesn’t work, it’s unfair to women.

  10. avatar
    Bryan

    I love all of these comments from sane people. Except Stephanie. She’s obviously an irrational pot stirrer. Or an alias for Lia Thomas.

  11. avatar
    Sherrifofnothingham

    Fascinating, how similar ideological forces diverge in such a way. On the one hand you have those that consider cultural or racial appropriation as abhorrent but have no problem with gender appropriation.

  12. avatar
    Andrea Ford

    A lot of people like Stephanie it seems just repeat whatever the media tells them without thinking for themselves. This scenario of bio men in women’s sports would have been unthinkable before the media started pushing it a few years ago. The media is not on the side of humanity in case anyone here hasn’t realized that. Winning awards is fun and sometimes lucrative but not necessary for a good life and especially when you are doing something so obviously unfair and hurting others. If adults want to take unopposed hormones ( a cancer risk at minimum) to change how they look and feel that is their choice but all women in sports and those that love them don’t need to suffer for it.

  13. avatar
    Anne Mckee

    Bodies compete not feelings. As we all know men are stronger and bigger, there is no way women can compete. This is why the rules were made in the first place. To deny this, is delusion.

  14. avatar
    Stuart

    Males should compete against males and females against females. Is this concept too difficult for some people to grasp.

  15. avatar
    Dennis

    Thank you Erika for speaking out. This insanity must be stopped.

    The progressives don’t place a lot of value on competition or hard work. I believe many of them would have no trouble sacrificing the sport women’s swimming for the sake of their ideology and feeling good about themselves morally.

    If it absolutely has to be the case that a man can choose to compete as a women (which I don’t agree with), then they need to come up with a way to insure it is fair. This has obviously not happened with Will Thomas.

    What motivation will girls have to dedicate themselves to swimming, if the competitions are a sham?

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      H

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