One of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas’ former teammates at the University of Pennsylvania has bashed the school for making female athletes undress beside the 6-foot-4 biological male ’18 times a week.’
Paula Scanlan, a former NCAA Division I swimmer, told lawmakers that university officials refused to hear complaints from the women athletes and instead said they should be ‘reeducated’.
Whether to let trans women compete in women’s sports is a frontline issue in America’s culture wars between progressives and conservatives. It played out in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
‘My teammates and I were forced to undress in the presence of Lia, a 6-foot-4 tall, biological male, with fully intact male genitalia, 18 times per week,’ Scanlan told the committee.
‘Some girls opted to change in bathroom stalls and others used the family bathroom to avoid this.’
When the women swimmers complained to the athletic department, they were told Thomas’ presence was ‘non-negotiable’ and were offered counselling to ‘reeducate us to become comfortable with the idea of undressing in front of a male,’ she added.
‘To sum up the university’s response, we, the women, were the problem, not the victims,’ Scanlan said.
‘We were expected to conform, to move over and shut up. Our feelings didn’t matter. The university was gaslighting and fearmongering women to validate the feelings and identity of a male.’
Last year, Lia Thomas became the first trans woman to win an NCAA swimming title at the Ivy League U-Penn. Thomas had previously competed on the male team. She began transitioning in 2019 and joined the female team in 2021.
Scanlan, an advisor at the Independent Women’s Forum, said she had trained for 20 hours each week as a teenager to realize her dreams and compete in big races, but still didn’t stand a chance against biological males.
‘Lia formally had personal best times in every freestyle event that were faster than the women’s world records,’ said Scanlan.
Though Thomas only made the top 500 when competing in men’s competitions, her gender swap meant she ‘became an NCAA champion in the 500-yard freestyle, the first NCAA champion in our women’s team history program,’ she added.