The father of a University of Pennsylvania swimmer said his daughter and many of her teammates do not feel they can compete fairly with teammate Lia Thomas, a record-setting transgender swimmer on the team, and that there has been a lot of “crying on the pool deck” over the situation.
“They don’t agree with what Lia’s doing and they’re really unhappy with the situation,” the anonymous parent told Fox News. “Morale is bad.”
The father’s comments come after the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced earlier this week that it had updated its transgender participation policy to reflect the practices of the U.S. and International Olympic Committees.
Under the new policy, transgender participation in a particular sport will be determined by that sport’s national governing body. If no such governing body exists, participation will be determined by the sport’s international federation rules. In the event that an international federation has no transgender policy, the American branch of a particular sport will follow the IOC policy.
The UPenn parent called the change a “cop-out.”
“The onus is now on USA Swimming to do something, and it’s my hope they have the courage to do the right thing and put stricter limits than what the current IOC policy states,” he said.
He added: “USA Swimming oversees all swimming in the United States, and I think if they really have courage they could craft a policy in such a way that tells little girls that USA Swimming has their best interests as well – that USA Swimming doesn’t only care about collegiate swimmers and international swimmers and so forth. Because this is a situation that could potentially affect hundreds and thousands of kids.”
The parent said his daughter is “angry that she’s in the situation” and has “lost opportunities as a result of it,” including having lost spots on relay competitions.
“She has given this sport everything she has, and she feels like some of it’s been taken away,” he said of his daughter who has been swimming since she was 5 years old, adding that many of the girls on the UPenn swim team are scared to speak out because “any kind of opposition is immediately called transphobic.”
“Nobody wants to be labeled that way and have their future threatened,” he said.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear what the new NCAA rule change will mean for women’s swimming given that the requirement on usaswimming.org is outdated: it cites “current IOC guidelines” that have not been in place since November, according to Forbes.
The outdated IOC standards had required transgender female athletes to have a total testosterone level in serum below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 consecutive months before competing on a women’s team. In November, those guidelines were nixed in favor of allowing a sport-by-sport approach.
USA Swimming told Fox News on Thursday that it plans to follow the lead of FINA, the international federation for administering international competitions in water sports, which is set to release a new policy soon.
“In 2018, we established athlete inclusion procedures, which included both a process by which an athlete could change their competition category consistent with their gender identity and criteria for athletes qualifying for or competing in elite-level competitions (including those competition time qualifications such as Juniors, Nationals and U.S. Open), which adhered to previous International Olympic Committee guidelines,” the statement from USA Swimming said. “This policy also importantly provides for individual athlete consideration.”
“The non-elite athlete inclusion procedures remain unchanged,” the statement added. “Following broad transgender policy changes in Nov. 2021, the IOC now requires International Federations to create their own sport-specific eligibility requirements, and so we have been proactively working with FINA for several months to help shape and support their policy development efforts. We believe they will release a new policy shortly, which we will adopt for elite-level competitions.”