In the new interview “What Is A Woman,” a former teammate of Lia Thomas, the collegiate transgender swimmer, has come forward with disturbing details of being silenced by the university. The interview exposed the discomfort and unfairness experienced by female athletes, as well as the campus environment that has surpassed dissenting voices.
Paula Scanlan, a former teammate of Thomas, exposed a troubling reality that has gripped her collegiate swimming program. She revealed how the announcement of Will Thomas’ transition to the women’s team, later known as Lia Thomas, created unease and discomfort among the women athletes.
“We were told maybe Lia might be changing in a different locker room or might continue to stay in the men’s locker room,” the former teammate revealed. “But then I saw the locker room chart and saw that Lia definitely had a locker in the women’s room. So that was confirmed that that was definitely going to be happening, and there was never really a further discussion about that.”
“So I said, ‘oh, okay, I guess this is the reality.'”
Lia Thomas was a collegiate swimmer who attended the University of Pennsylvania. He initially competed on the university’s men’s swim team from 2017 to 2020 before transitioning to the women’s swim team from 2021 to 2022. In March 2022, he was first openly transgender athlete to win a NCAA Division I national championship in any sport, securing victory in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event. His transition and athletic success sparked public controversy about the participation of transgenders in women’s sports
The presence of a male athlete in the women’s locker room understandably caused unease. Scanlan shared, “It was definitely uncomfortable. I did notice a few girls changing in the bathroom stalls for practice, which is something I’ve never really seen before,” she said.
“For me personally, the biggest thing was just when you’re changing and there’s all these people talking in the background, you hear all these women’s voices, and then all of a sudden you hear a man’s voice. I’d always kind of jump a little bit.”
Scanlan exposed the university’s efforts to silence any dissent or criticism. She detailed how one teammate initially expressed her upset and went crying to the athletic department. However, after a meeting with the department, her opinion drastically changed.
“She came back from the meeting and suddenly it was the most magical, beautiful thing that this was like, we’re part of this groundbreaking team,” the former teammate recounted. “There was something going on in that athletic department that wanted to keep us quiet, and I was like, this is getting scary.”
Scanlan further disclosed the university’s attempts to control the narrative and stifle any discussion. She revealed, “They said, ‘Don’t talk to the media, you will regret it.’ They also stated, ‘Leah swimming is a non-negotiable.’ And then they provided us with counseling services to help us be okay with Leah swimming.”
As a Taiwanese citizen as well as a US citizen. I’m able to see first hand the impact the decisions we make in America have on the world. Americans we need to step up and do the right thing.
— Paula Scanlan (@PaulaYScanlan) June 6, 2023
Scanlan painted a distressing picture of an athletic department and university administration willing to dismiss the concerns of female athletes and enforce silence on the matter. The former teammate expressed her frustration vehemently.
“It’s discouraging, and there’s already been instances of professionals who have quit their sports over this,” Scanlan explained. “I don’t know what that looks like exactly, but I just don’t think there’ll be truly women’s sports.”