Erika Brown: “We Cannot Allow Transgender Females” To Compete Against Women

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.

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Old Swimmer
2 years ago

I wanna take this topic in a different direction.

What if we had this same situation on the mens side where there was a statistically faster biological gender that identified as a man. Assuming the difference between this other gender and men is the same as men and women, how much faster do we think world records could end up getting?

2 years ago

I hypothesize that the collective male species now threatened by the *sudden advancement of the female species (exhibiting equal if not greater, talent, intelligence, and fortitude) has developed a coping mechanism born of (mostly) a first world neurosis that has evolved and been made real through the physical manipulation of the body. Transgender women, born men, have a DNA and physical structure and aptitude of the male species. Therefore, transgender women are just that, of another gender, not female. To expect women who were born as such after hundreds of years (since the birth of the United State of America) of experiencing abuse, neglect, suffrage, and discrimination to just ‘accept’ the transgender people as female is to allow society to… Read more »

Little Mermaid
2 years ago

Where are the current and top Olympian swimmers? MP, KL? I am sure they have plenty to say behind closed doors! at least EB started and has leadership what is correct and incorrect at this point in time. Rules need to be set now for future environment. Stop being afraid to speak now not after the fact and KL records are broken!

Last edited 2 years ago by Little Mermaid
Reply to  Little Mermaid
2 years ago

So to be clear: you’re only angry if Katie Ledecky’s records get broken? If Lia doesn’t break Katie Ledecky’s records, you’ll come back and acknowledge that you overblew this?

Little Mermaid
Reply to  swimapologist
2 years ago

Not at all, the top swimmers who achieved any record needs to come out and speak what is fair in this environment. Not going to name all the swimmers. However, the top ones from current to previous need to speak up, then maybe people will listen. I’m sure if they don’t speak now they will after the fact a record is broken, plus the fact that there is a clear advantage, regardless record or not, there needs to be a new set of rules for this type of environment for such swimmers

Last edited 2 years ago by Little Mermaid
John Vezchec
2 years ago

For anyone who would like to get educated on the subject:

Reply to  John Vezchec
2 years ago

Most of us have seen that – the points have all been hashed out – it’s not a logical post and uses language power to dismiss science…
– comparing Michael Phelps .08% advantage over other male competitors is not even a remotely logical comparison to the greater than 10% advantage male physiology brings when compared to a female
– Lia was a good male swimmer, but nowhere near amazing – there are literally 1000s of men and boys that can swim her pre – trans time in the 200 free that could compete or beat her after years on testosterone suppression, yet only a few females have ever been close to 1:40 – so Lias success is not… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by Lol
Reply to  John Vezchec
2 years ago

Educated? If that’s the level of critical thinking taught at Harvard, it does not speak well for a Harvard education. I would actually be interesting to see an argument for the inclusion of trans athletes in women’s sports that could not serve equally well as an argument for the elimination of women’s sport.

2 years ago

Good for Erika on speaking out!

2 years ago

Terfika Brown

Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

At this point, that got my upvote bc it’s a compliment, though guessing you meant it cruelly. Anyone standing up for women (for whom the root of oppression has been their biological body) is the right side to be on.

Cultural structure and norms both oppressive and supportive have grown up around what it means to be female based on our bodies (that they are weaker, smaller, require time off from life to create life, change and require societal adaptations because of how they change, etc). NOT ONLY because of how they look. They can do things male bodies cannot do and vice versa. Our bodies are not comparable. That is most certainly obvious in medicine and in physical… Read more »

Reply to  Bossanova
2 years ago

when women speak up for their rights, they’re called names. we’ve seen this movie before.

2 years ago

I have a transgender family member and I support them fully. At the same time, there’s an undeniable biological advantage. How can we facilitate full transgender participation in competitive swimming without disadvantaging cisgender women? We need to figure this out. Swimming has a history of exclusion by race that we’re starting to move past…we don’t want to set up new barriers to participation. With a compassionate spirit, we can figure this out.

Last edited 2 years ago by Esther
Wanda Denis
Reply to  Esther
1 year ago

Very well said!

The unoriginal Tim
2 years ago

Well said. It take courage to stand up for what is right. No trans athletes should be allowed in womens sport.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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