Ivy League Releases Statement In Support of Lia Thomas

The Ivy League released a statement in support of Lia Thomas‘ participation on the University of Pennsylvania women’s team in an Instagram post on Thursday.

The conference says it has adopted the same transgender policies as the NCAA, and that Thomas and Penn have worked to ensure they’re abiding by those restrictions in recent years.

Ivy League Statement:

“Over the past several years, Lia and the University of Pennsylvania have worked with the NCAA to follow all of the appropriate protocols in order to comply with the NCAA policy on transgender athlete participation and compete on the Penn women’s swimming and diving team. The Ivy League has adopted and applies the same policy.

“The Ivy League reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form.

“The league welcomes her participation in the sport of women’s swimming and diving and looks forward to celebrating the success of all of our student-athletes throughout the season.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Ivy League (@ivyleague)

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.

The NCAA’s transgender policy allows trans women to compete on a women’s team if they’ve completed a minimum of one year of testosterone suppression treatment. Thomas has been undergoing treatment for the last two and a half years.

Thomas currently ranks first in the NCAA in the women’s 200 freestyle (1:41.93) and 500 freestyle (4:34.06), and also ranks sixth in the 1650 free (15:59.71).

The 2022 Ivy League Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships are scheduled for February 16-19 in Cambridge, Mass.

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Lil Swimmy
8 days ago

i feel that many of the comments opposed to the NCAA guidelines have been misguided towards Lia, unfortunately

HJones
Reply to  Lil Swimmy
8 days ago

Lia isn’t blameless in this situation, however. Did you watch the SwimSwam interview? It’s pretty clear she has no self-awareness regarding how her participation in women’s sports is extremely damaging for swimmers who were born female and didn’t have the benefit of male puberty. She constantly talks about what is “fair” for her, yet in the entire interview with SS, she had absolutely no concern regarding how her participation isn’t fair for the born-female swimmers in her class.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  HJones
8 days ago

Life isn’t fair. Get used to it.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
8 days ago

Keep your chin up mate.

Ferb
Reply to  HJones
8 days ago

Lia is probably somewhat handcuffed by the cis-phobic trans propaganda that refuses to acknowledge that there is any difference at all between trans women and cis women. If Lia were to say “yes, I agree, these rules really are not fair to most women, so I’ll swim exhibition until they get it figured out,” she would be outcast from probably the only community that totally accepts her.

Jim
Reply to  HJones
8 days ago

Nobody asked Phelps if his dominance was bad for the sport or for his fellow competitors. Why should Lia have to be asked the same?

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Jim
8 days ago

We don’t have divisions in swimming based on wingspan/lactic acid production/double-jointed ankles.

We do have divisions in swimming based on biologically male bodies vs biologically female bodies.

Unless of course you want Ledecky, Sjostrom et al to race against the men.

Sam B

I often thought of adding height groups to age groups in swimming, only seems fair. But you are right, wingspan and feet size is more accurate way of determining speed?

C B
Reply to  Jim
8 days ago

Then men and women should compete together. Never again separate teams.

Dudeman
Reply to  Jim
7 days ago

Because Phelps was a biological male competing against other biological males and any difference in body structure is due to genetics. Lia is a trans female competing against biological females and differences in body structure and performance is due to her experiencing testosterone fueled puberty akin to doping if you were a biological female

Blackflag82
Reply to  HJones
8 days ago

“It’s pretty clear she has no self-awareness regarding…”

Could be applied to nearly every college kid I’ve ever met. Even the ones who are globally and socially aware still have their heads far up their own butts (I include myself and nearly everyone I went to college with in that statement)

Last edited 8 days ago by Blackflag82
swimfan27
Reply to  Lil Swimmy
8 days ago

I agree to an extent, but she is not blameless. She is taking advantage of a loophole in the system to unethically win against women who really have no chance at beating her. As a smart woman at UPenn, I’m sure deep down she knows what she is doing is wrong. Yes, she is grateful that SHE gets to keep swimming, but it is selfish of her to compete against biological females and she knows it. And no, saying this is not transphobic, as much as I’m sure some people would like to call ANY criticism of the situation.

swimmerswammer
Reply to  swimfan27
8 days ago

I don’t think the word “loophole” means what you think it means.

HJones
Reply to  swimmerswammer
8 days ago

It’s pretty clear you don’t either, considering you don’t think it’s a word you could use to describe this situation:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loophole?utm_campaign=sd&utm_medium=serp&utm_source=jsonld

swimmerswammer
Reply to  HJones
8 days ago

She’s using the rule exactly as it was intended. How do you think the rule was intended if not this?

A loophole would be, for example, if she went on HRT for exactly 365 days, went off HRT (which seemingly would be allowed by the rule), and started going 4:18s again.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  HJones
8 days ago

Did you just “webster’s dictionary defines” in a comment, but also incorrectly? We’re reaching new levels of Commenter Brain.

Distance Per Stroke
Reply to  Lil Swimmy
8 days ago

Nope, Lia said she has no unfair advantage over anyone. It’s different if she said yea its unfair but I’m just following what the NCAA allows me to do.

Former Coach
Reply to  Distance Per Stroke
8 days ago

I couldn’t agree more with that. She has the best opportunity to work with the NCAA to come up with a policy that would be deemed “fair.” I think it would also be respectful to show some compassion to the athletes she’s competing against. I would also hope that her competitors return the compassion. Unfortunately, we are now in the position to sit back and say, “See what happens..”

Swammer
Reply to  Former Coach
5 days ago

Why is that her responsibility? She’s a college kid who wants to swim. She’s also a senior who is probably concerned about finding a job in the coming months (particularly given that her name is splattered all over the internet and unemployment rates are about twice as high in the transgender community). I’m sure she has other things to focus on than intentionally making it more difficult for other transgender kids who choose to follow in her footsteps.

She has no more authority on the subject than you or I, besides benefiting from the current regulations. How would she be able to meaningfully contribute to NCAA policymaking procedures?

Big Mac #1
8 days ago

Grab your popcorn

swimfan27
8 days ago

Sad that it’s come to this. Wholehearted support of one person while hundreds of other women suffer the consequences.

SoCalSwimster
Reply to  swimfan27
8 days ago

It would be great if Lia could use her situation to further a “trans in sport” movement with some kind of solution – something like Hey, I agree a new, separate category for placing and scoring might make progress here and I will be the first? Leading the way so to speak. Instead she appears focused solely on her own interests, going to plow ahead and pretend everything is in order at the expense of women’s swimming – the harm to women’s sports cannot be denied. Missed opportunity to use the platform to accomplish something positive, imo.

swimfan27
Reply to  SoCalSwimster
8 days ago

Exactly right.

Ferb
Reply to  SoCalSwimster
8 days ago

Lia is probably under a lot of pressure from trans activists and their supporters to toe the party line. When someone is part of a tiny, marginalized minority community, it would take incredible courage to isolate one’s self from others in that community by deviating from the approved talking points.

YourLocalD3Swimmer
8 days ago

Honestly, I don’t understand this. This is absolutely a difficult discussion, but one that merits dialogue. As we learn more about how trans people’s athletic abilities are affected by their transition, wouldn’t it make sense to be fluid with the eligibility rules for transgender people too? Everything seems to be “well she is within the NCAA rules…” but how do we know those rules are fair and equitable? Lia has just as much of a right to compete as anyone else, but if the belief is that she has an unfair biological advantage, it’s worth having an open discussion about. Not releasing some crappy statement basically saying she will compete, end of story, and not allowing any open debate.

mMmMm
Reply to  YourLocalD3Swimmer
8 days ago

Leave it to a D3 swimmer to be the sensible responder on this thread. Represent!

Working swim mom
Reply to  YourLocalD3Swimmer
8 days ago

Agreed. Why isn’t everyone going after the NCAA to insist on hormone testing to ensure adequate suppression is happening? Isn’t that what happens for international competitions? The trans athlete has to demonstrate suppression to within “normal” limits for women? (I do understand that “normal” can be relative, too.) I’m just asking why aren’t folks angry that the NCAA policy isn’t more clear than just a year of HRT?

Riccardo
Reply to  Working swim mom
8 days ago

Truthfully there is no way to actually be on equal footing from a endocrinology standpoint.

If a trans woman athlete has successfully suppressed total testosterone to a level that is comparable to that of an elite female they will still have an an advantage due to lower sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and the way
it interacts with testosterone and DHT in males and females.

Basically biological males have less SHBG which allows for a higher delivery of testosterone and DHT to tissues. Meaning a trans athlete with comparable total test will likely have free (usable) test that is 2-3x or more higher during any given training session or race.

This obviously doesn’t even take into account… Read more »

Lol
Reply to  Working swim mom
8 days ago

It has to be more than hormones- there is no way to conclusively measure mitigation for male based biological advantages. There isn’t a fair and just way to say here’s what this person would have been like as a member of the opposite sex (hormones, oxygen levels, height, weight, strength). Using drugs to alter a body and create a competitor that is a female equivalent isn’t objectively rational.

joanietheswimmer
Reply to  YourLocalD3Swimmer
8 days ago

It IS all about the rules not being right. It IS the NCAA not really caring much about this because they don’t really care much about non-revenue sports. The NCAA clearly has not done the research or put much thought into making rules for fairness.

Crimson chin
8 days ago

Here for the comments 🍿 🍿🍿

Alex Dragovich
Reply to  Crimson chin
7 days ago

Maybe don’t talk with your mouth full of popcorn, especially when the dialogue here has significant stakes.

Go Hounds
8 days ago

While Lia is following all of the current rules to participate, the responsibility falls squarely on the NCAA to adapt it’s rules to make a more level playing field for all. Let her go to NCAA’s and compete if she is following the rules. We will not see anything done to the guidelines mid-season, but we can (and should) expect something to come out quietly in the off-season. My heart goes out to the biological women who are going to miss qualifying by one place in her events this season.

SwimFan1
8 days ago

It’s nice for the Ivy League to remind us that education and wisdom are two completely different things.

Oldswimguy
Reply to  SwimFan1
8 days ago

I live a few miles from a Ivy Institution and you hit the nail on the head. Lots of smart people……………but little wisdom and a lot of ideology.

Jimbob
Reply to  Oldswimguy
8 days ago

It’s been almost 20 yes for me, but back then the majority of out-of-touch types were the careerist administration and beurocracy. The professors were largely open minded, moreso than you’d think. Same for the student body. The issue is that beurocracy has seemingly doubled in size and power since then. You can see this in the Ivy Leagues insane covid policies these past few yrs.

joanietheswimmer
Reply to  SwimFan1
8 days ago

so well said!

Sam B
Reply to  SwimFan1
8 days ago

as the saying went in Starmarket between MIT and Harvard, “the line is slow because the cashier is either from MIT or Harvard, he can’t read or can’t count”

Taa
8 days ago

We are getting comment fatigue on this topic

dan
Reply to  Taa
8 days ago

The more comments the better! I for one am reassured that the vast majority of swimswam commentors (and people who upvote/downvote) seem to be on the side of common sense…that Lia Thomas should not be allowed to compete in women’s races.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Taa
8 days ago

And article fatigue

West Coast Swammer
Reply to  Taa
8 days ago

Is there an online petition to sign and send to NCAA? Or if people would prefer to remain anonymous, does anyone know who to send such things to at NCAA? Seems like they are the only ones that have power to change this.

swimfan27
Reply to  West Coast Swammer
8 days ago

Statement of support for women’s athletics to sign:
https://womenssportspolicy.org/petition/

Female athlete
Reply to  swimfan27
7 days ago

This organization is working for the good of women’s sports and may be directly involved behind the scene. However, as ‘West Coast Swimmer’ implies, where is the direct pressure on the NCAA? Has anyone seen any journalistic reporting regarding direct contact with the NCAA on this matter? Who can we appeal to directly? Otherwise it appears as if those responsible are unfazed, unaffected by this situation, while the swimming community debates it amongst ourselves.

Female athlete
Reply to  West Coast Swammer
6 days ago

Here is a petition site and provides details on how to contact the NCAA directly. https://savewomenssports.com/ncaa

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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