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28 Jan, 2022 13:18

Trans swimmer’s teammates ‘feel uncomfortable’ in locker room

An anonymous University of Pennsylvania swimmer says complaints to coaches have gone nowhere
Trans swimmer’s teammates ‘feel uncomfortable’ in locker room

One of Lia Thomas' UPenn teammates has anonymously complained that she and others feel uncomfortable changing in the locker rooms with the trans swimmer.

Previously known as Will, Thomas has smashed a number of records this season while controversially competing in women's events. 

And while parents have complained about Thomas' participation to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, who have passed the buck to individual national sporting bodies as part of a policy update, a teammate has also spoken about the discomfort she and others reportedly feel with having Thomas in the locker room.

"It’s definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women," the swimmer explained to the Daily Mail regarding Thomas, who has allegedly told her colleagues she dates females.

"Multiple swimmers have raised it [with coaches], multiple different times," the anonymous party claimed.

"But we were basically told that we could not ostracize Lia by not having her in the locker room and that there’s nothing we can do about it, that we basically have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our own locker room.”

"It’s really upsetting because Lia doesn’t seem to care how it makes anyone else feel," the swimmer continued.

"The 35 of us are just supposed to accept being uncomfortable in our own space and locker room for, like, the feelings of one."

"The school was so focused on making sure Lia was okay, and doing everything they possibly could do for her, that they didn’t even think about the rest of us."

According to the swimmer, Thomas "seems like she enjoys" the attention she is receiving for the ongoing controversy which has "affected all of us way more than it’s affected her".

But most of the team are scared to speak out due to a fear of being dubbed transphobic, which has also seen them refrain from protesting at swim meets.

"If this gets a little bit bigger, I might go on the record, but I’m definitely a little afraid," the swimmer admitted.

"What I’m afraid of is that potential employers will Google my name and see commentary about things I said and think: 'Oh, this person’s transphobic'."

As per the NCAA's new policy, though, the anonymous source is happy that the organization is passing on responsibility to USA Swimming, which will soon determine whether transgender athletes can compete against biologically male or female rivals.

"USA Swimming is more conservative and they have stakes in the game," she pointed out. "These are people who swam their whole lives, who have kids and daughters who swim, and they see what this is doing to the swim community."

The swimmer hopes that the organization's decision is made before March's NCAA swimming and diving championships where Thomas is scheduled to take part in the women's 200-yard, 500-yard and 1,650-yard events.

"It’s definitely important that we don’t set this precedent," she insisted. "I think it’s important that women and also little girls aren’t looking up and saying, 'Well, I don’t actually have a chance to win.'”

To resolve the issue, the swimmer suggested an "open category" where Thomas can face off against male swimmers but not compete in men's races.

Elsewhere, Thomas has received support from Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Brooke Forde who said she "will not have a problem" with Thomas competing against her in NCAA competition this year.