Photo: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images
Share the dressing room with transgender athlete Lia Thomas has become a point of contention for her fellow swim teammates at the University of Pennsylvaniabecause they feel uncomfortable.
“It’s definitely awkward because Lia’s body has male parts and the dressing room is still exclusively for women,” a member of the crew told DailyMail.com in an interview.
While Lia covers herself with a towel at times, there is a fair amount of nuditysaid the swimmer. She and other members of the team have glimpsed her residual manhood.
She stated that members of the team have raised concerns with the coach, trying to kick Thomas out of the women’s locker room, but to no avail.
“They basically told us that we can’t 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 turn around and accept it, or we can stop wearing our own locker room,” he said. .
“It’s really annoying because Lia doesn’t seem to care how she makes others feel,” the swimmer continued.
“The 35 members of the team are supposed to accept being uncomfortable in our own space and locker room because of the feelings of only one.”
The swimmer, who remained anonymous, said UPenn’s handling of the locker room issue is emblematic of the school’s overall approach to the Lia Thomas controversy, with the school doing everything it can to make Thomas feel welcome without seem to care how it affects her teammates.
“The school was so focused on making sure Lia was okay, and whatever they could do for her, that they didn’t even think about the rest of us,” the team member told DailyMail.com.
“It seems like the women who built this show and the people who were here before Lia don’t matter. And it’s frustrating because Lia doesn’t really seem to mind all the attention at all. Actually, she seems like she enjoys it. It has affected all of us much more than her.”
The school issued a brief statement last month that it was offering mental health services to its student-athletes.
Thomas, 22, plans to break his long silence and share his story exclusively with Sports Illustrated, it was announced Wednesday.
The NCAA, which established rules allowing transgender athletes to compete after completing a year of hormone therapy, recently washed its hands of announcing that participation by transgender athletes will now be determined by each sport’s national governing body.
In Thomas’s case, this would fall to USA Swimming, which is considering a new policy.
“USA Swimming strongly believes in inclusion and the opportunity for all athletes to experience the sport of swimming in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression,” it stated last week.
“We are also strong believers in competitive fairness actions and, like many, do our best to learn and educate ourselves on the proper balance in this space.”
Thomas said he hopes any change comes before the NCAA championships in March, where he has a chance to break the NCAA all-time records set by Olympic gold medalists Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.
Thomas, who was on the UPenn men’s team for her first three years, has been breaking women’s swimming records.
His teammates discussed protesting at a swim meet, but ultimately decided it was too risky as they might be singled out as transphobic.
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