Penn Teammates Express ‘Full Support’ for Lia Thomas

pennsniorswait - Lia Thomas
Lia Thomas, far left, and fellow Penn seniors await senior day recognition Saturday in a tri-meet with Dartmouth and Yale

Penn Teammates Express ‘Full Support’ for Lia Thomas

Members of the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swimming and diving team this week released a statement in support of teammate Lia Thomas.

The statement was first reported by ESPN, and a copy of the full statement was provided to Swimming World. Though it wasn’t specifically signed by any number of athletes, the statement appears to reflect a broad swath of the Quakers’ team.

The statement:

As members of the Penn Women’s Swimming and Diving team and teammates of Lia Thomas, we want to express our full support for Lia in her transition. We value her as a person, teammate, and friend. The sentiments put forward by an anonymous member of our team are not representative of the feelings, values, and opinions of the entire Penn team, composed of 39 women with diverse backgrounds. We recognize this is a matter of great controversy and are doing our best to navigate it while still focusing on doing our best in the pool and classroom.

It is the closest to an on-the-record declaration of support as has come from the program. The Ivy League, various members and the University of Pennsylvania signaled their support for Thomas in January. Head coach Mike Schnur and members of the swim team have not granted interviews since the start of the season.

The statement counterbalances reported criticism from teammates or parents, all of it being voiced anonymously, objecting to Thomas’ participation. The swimmers’ support follows a statement from 16 law organizations at Penn in favor of Thomas’ right to compete, as well as comments made by American Olympian and Stanford All-American Brooke Forde.

Thomas, a senior on the women’s team, competed for three seasons on the men’s team before coming out as transgender and transitioning. She has followed the guidelines set forth by the NCAA and USA Swimming as to the required waiting periods before competing. Yet her presence on the roster and a fast fall in which she posted some of the top times in the nation in the women’s distance events has sparked a maelstrom of controversy and elicited reviews of policies regarding transgender athletes from various organizations.

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Marge
4 months ago

I do not believe that the women are in support of Lia swimming on the womens team. This should not be permitted she had every right to transition to being female but she still has the body and parts that are male. This is unfair

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Anonymous
4 months ago
Reply to  Marge

I believe several have spoken out anonymously not supporting her. The only reason Penn supports her is cuz they can score a lot of points, and have a possibility of a swimmer winning a championship. Unfair!!! She should step down, or compete as a male. Anyone who knows anything about swimming knows this is bull, but trying to be politically correct! The powers that be need to grow some ball and do the right thing!!!

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Seth
4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I know a lot about swimming, having been an active competitor for 50 years, as well as an instructor and a coach. I know that swimming will benefit from open-mindedness, inclusion, and diversity.

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Anonymous
4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

I don’t think that’s accurate – it’s not like Lia’s presence is going to magically make Penn a top NCAA team. Hell, it’s unlikely to make Penn a top Ivy team – Harvard and Princeton are typically much faster. Further, while I am sure they prefer to have a winning team versus a losing team, I think you can safely discount the idea that athletics are considered of paramount import at an Ivy in the same way they are at traditional powerhouses like Auburn, Stanford, Cal, Georgia, or Florida – all of which offer scholarships, unlike the Ivies. It seems more likely that they simply support a student-athlete in the midst of her Penn career.

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John Heden
4 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

This is total BS. She can be whatever she wants to be but in the pool stay in your lane. She has the advantages of having a body of a man. You can tell me that she’s reducing her testosterone but she’s still probably walking around in size 12 shoes with the hands the size of Tom Brady’s. Unless she’s having foot and hand surgery you can’t change that.

We have lost our minds!

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Seth
4 months ago
Reply to  Marge

It doesn’t matter if you believe them or not, I am thrilled that Ms. Thomas’s teammates have stepped up and spoken out in support of her, that is the true definition of being on a team.

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Jan
4 months ago
Reply to  Seth

Hands down, this is unfair to women. Lia is biologically a male not a female any way you cut it. The women need to stand up and not compete against Lia. This is wrong!!!

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John Heden
4 months ago
Reply to  Seth

OK so the swim team at Penn is supporting her. Whoopty do! What about all the young ladies on the other teams who have worked hard and have goals of their own. Now many of them swimming their last meets of their career will be going up against basically a man. Whatever happened to women’s rights!

This is being handled so poorly.

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Monica Huckaby
3 months ago
Reply to  Seth

Seth

Tell that to Silver Medalist Emma Weyant, a bio woman  who won the Silver Medal at the Olympics that she is second best.

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bob
3 months ago
Reply to  Seth

It has come out that the team was told if they speak out agains Lia, they will be cut from the team.

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Willie
4 months ago
Reply to  Marge

This is unfair Lea Thomas is a man. Because you say you a woman and take some estrogen pills don’t make you a woman. He is taking a easy way out to become a champion and the school as well as himself are cheating the sport. The problem with the transgender community is they think their opinion of themselves are weight everybody else opinion. A born man walking into the women’s locker room or a born woman walk into the men locker room. What about the rights of everybody else that feel uncomfortable and think their privacy is again invaded?

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Donnielee46
4 months ago
Reply to  Marge

This is NOT the full statement that the team presented. It’s only half, supporting her desire to transition. Now publish the WHOLE statement where they oppose her swimming as a woman.

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John
4 months ago

How exactly will swimming benefit from “more inclusion, diversity”, etc.? Please specify, Seth, with some practical and factual examples. Will those benefits be something measurable or just imagined? Swimming is swimming. People do it or they don’t. If you are talking about racing, why not allow animals and motorised vehicles? That will increase diversity. I am quite sure that when a swimmer stands on a block they are not thinking of all the types of people milling around in the pool building who might not have been there the previous week. I certainly didn’t.

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Charley Brown
4 months ago

I’m confused…do you taper Lia like a man or a woman?

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Seth
4 months ago
Reply to  Charley Brown

Please explain your confusion, I don’t think men and women necessarily taper differently, but individual swimmers do, according to their individual experience and training.

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Swimswim
4 months ago

I don’t believe a word. They support through non-choice. Speak other than the party line and you are kicked out.

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Anonymous
4 months ago
Reply to  Swimswim

Totally agree !! Speaking out against “him” would result in serious consequences for other swimmers on the team. Let’s see how many enter the transfer portal.

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Anon
4 months ago

The timing is sus. She’s been male 20 years and now for her senior year she’s female?

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John Heden
4 months ago
Reply to  Anon

OK so the swim team at Penn is supporting her. Whoopty do! What about all the young ladies on the other teams who have worked hard and have goals of their own. Now many of them swimming their last meets of their career will be going up against basically a man. Whatever happened to women’s rights!

This is being handled so poorly.

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Chuck
4 months ago

Tremendous inconsistency in what this supposed “statement of support” says, and other more recent declarations by teammates requesting that UPenn not challenge any decision by NCAA/USA Swimming rules that would disqualify Thomas from this year’s NCAA nationals, along with another NY Post article stating that Thomas, who still sports male genitalia, and is attracted to and dates women is making things uncomfortable for his female teammates in the women’s locker room.

That statement of support could very well have been written by one person, or by a Public Affairs Dept.. at UPenn and represented as being the view of the team, since no names or even numbers of co-signers was attached to it.

Serious question…how would a woman that dates Thomas identify? Not as a lesbian, surely, since Thomas is not a woman, as evidenced by the penis and testicles. Not as a heterosexual woman surely, since Thomas claims to be and presents himself as a woman. Am curious how his attraction to and dating of women is worked out.

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bob
3 months ago

It has come out from swimmers that they were told if they speak out against Liam, they will be cut from the team.