Former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Paula Scanlan explained how her school blamed and sought to reeducate female athletes who felt uncomfortable with biological male Lia Thomas’ participation on the women’s swim team.
“My teammates and I were forced to undress in the presence of Lia, a six-foot-four tall biological male fully intact with male genitalia, 18 times per week,” Scanlan testified Thursday at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government hearing. “Some girls opted to change in bathroom stalls and others used the family bathroom to avoid this.”
“When we tried to voice our concerns to the athletic department, we were told that Lia’s swimming and being in our locker room was a non–negotiable, and we were offered a psychological services to attempt to reeducate us to become comfortable with the idea of undressing in front of a male. To sum up the university’s response, we, the women, were the problem, not the victims. We were expected to conform, to move over and shut up. Our feelings didn’t matter. The university was gaslighting and mongering women to validate the feelings and identity of a male,” she continued.
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) July 27, 2023
Thomas’ participation on the Penn women’s swim team sharply divided the group, multiple news outlets reported. While a few swimmers supported Thomas’ participation, 16 submitted an anonymous letter calling on the school not to challenge rules that would have banned Thomas from swimming with women. (RELATED: Penn Swimming Has ‘Fallen Apart’ As School Breaks Records With Biological Male On Women’s Team)
“As an attempt to voice my concern about the situation we are forced into, revealing the unjust and unfair treatment, I wrote an op-ed for the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student-run newspaper. I approached this from a scientific, statistical perspective where I used my engineering background to to discuss how Y chromosomes cannot be changed by any surgical procedure or systemic therapy. This biological fact lends itself to athletic advantages that cannot be mitigated by lowering testosterone levels, which are readily apparent in sports competitions and locker rooms. The Daily Pennsylvanian published my article on the evening of Feb. 10, 2022. Only a few hours later, my piece was retracted,” Scanlan added.
Thomas ranked 554th in the nation when competing with male swimmers in the 200-yard freestyle in the 2018-19 season. That number shot up to fifth when Thomas competed against female swimmers during the 2021-22 season. Thomas also broke the 500 and 200 meter freestyle Ivy League records.