Two-time Olympic medalist Erika Brown became the first active U.S. National Team swimmer to speak out regarding the ongoing debate surrounding Lia Thomas‘ ability to compete as a woman in the NCAA, posting a statement on her Instagram Stories Wednesday.
Brown, a former NCAA star at the University of Tennessee, said that “we cannot allow transgender females to compete against biological women,” and that a few years of hormone suppression won’t change the fact that a trans woman will have physical advantages over a biological female.
Thomas, a trans woman, competed on the University of Pennsylvania men’s team for three seasons before transitioning over a two-year period before beginning to race as a woman in 2021-22.
Read Brown’s full statement below:
“I want to share something that’s been on my heart regarding what is going on in USA Swimming at the moment. I believe that we are all God’s children and we are called to love one another. I don’t want to create any hate, only speak up for what is right.
“We cannot allow transgender females to compete against biological women. A biological male goes through male puberty. Even when she has transitioned, she still has the physiology of a male. A few years of testosterone blockers and estrogen doesn’t change the fact that she will have more powerful muscles, a larger heart and greater lung capacity than a biological woman.
“It’s time to start standing up for women’s sports, before we lose what so many before us have fought for. I hope that this can help inspire others to speak up.”
Thomas is not a USA Swimming member, according to USA Swimming President Tim Hinchey.
Prior to Brown’s statement, we’ve seen some others in the swimming community let their voice be heard on the issue, though primarily not from those actively competing.
On Tuesday, former USC head coach Dave Salo spoke out with a similar stance to Brown, adding that he felt the need to voice his opinion because he was nearing the end of his career and therefore “cant be canceled.”
There have been reports of Thomas’ Penn teammates speaking out on the issue, though they’ve done so anonymously in fear of the potential repercussions.
Brown, 23, won two medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this past summer, earning a silver on the U.S. women’s 400 medley relay and a bronze on the 400 freestyle relay.
Brown also owns three SC World Championship gold medals from 2018, and was the two-time SEC Female Swimmer of the Year during her four-year career at Tennessee, which wrapped up in 2020.
The Charlotte, N.C. native was a 21-time All-American, won 18 SEC titles, and was a member of the Lady Vols’ NCAA Championship victory in the 200 medley relay in 2019.