A long-serving USA Swimming official (pictured top left) has resigned in protest of transgender University of Pennsylvania student-athlete Lia Thomas (pictured top right), who competes on the women’s swimming team.
Lia Thomas, a three-year member of the men’s team at Penn, joined the women’s team this year after transitioning to a woman and completing the one-year testosterone suppression treatments required by the NCAA.
Her inclusion on the women’s team has sparked outrage after she shattered records and qualified for the NCAA championships in March despite being a below-average swimmer when competing against men.
At the Zippy Invitational earlier this month, she beat her teammate Anna Sofia Kalandadze by 38 seconds in the 1,6500-yard freestyle.
‘I don’t mean to be critical of Lia – whatever’s going on, Lia’s a child of God, a precious person – but bodies swim against bodies,’ said Cynthia Millen, a USA Swimming official for three decades, to The Washington Times.
Millen resigned on December 17 as she prepared to officiate at the US Paralympic Swimming National Championship in North Carolina, saying she couldn’t’support this.’
‘That’s a male body versus a female body.’ And that male body is unchangeable. ‘That male body will always be a male body,’ she went on to say.
Millen referred to the winning margin as “a lifetime in swimming.”
‘I informed my colleagues that I will no longer participate in a sport that allows biological men to compete against women.’ ‘Everything good about swimming is being ruined,’ Millen wrote in her letter.
‘If Lia showed up on my deck as a referee, I’d pull the coach aside and say, “Lia can swim, but Lia can swim exhibition or a time trial.’ “It’s not fair for Lia to compete against those women,” she added.
Millen stated that it is the responsibility of coaches and swimming officials to advocate for what she calls “fair competitions” in which biological women are not disadvantaged.
‘People are asking why the swimmers don’t just leave,’ says one. ‘Well, those are 19- and 20-year-old kids,’ Millen explained. ‘It’s entirely up to us.’ We’re the ones who are supposed to provide this level playing field. We should be the ones to say, ‘Wait a minute.’
She also stated that she was not the only official who thought Thomas’ inclusion on Penn’s women’s swimming team was unjust, adding that most were afraid of repercussions if they expressed their true feelings on the matter.
‘I’ve talked to some other officials, and while they say, “Yeah, this is ridiculous,” I think a lot of people feel helpless,’ Millen said.
‘But you have to take a stand every now and then.’ It will change if enough people walk off the field or if enough referees say no. It’s incorrect.’
She went on to say that USA Swimming officials were worried about losing sponsorships and portraying the organization as exclusive.
‘However, this is not inclusive. ‘This is deception,’ Millen said.
Millen also expressed her opposition to Thomas competing in women’s events on FOX’s The Ingraham Angle, saying that ‘bodies swim against bodies’ and ‘gender identities don’t swim.’
‘Lia is a man competing against women in the pool…
Lia competes against women every time he enters the pool. That is grossly unfair to all the women who have worked so hard,’ she said on Thursday to host Raymond Arroyo.
‘Biologically, women will never be faster than men.’
‘Yes, a Katie Ledecky can beat a lot of guys, but in the end, the [best] guys are going to beat Katie Ledecky,’ Millen added. Absolutely. The difference is between 8 and 12 percent faster. They will always win if they are equally trained,’ Millen said.
‘The fact that this is still happening, that women are still losing to biological males in their own sport, demonstrates why we need more female athletes to speak out about it,’ says one.