Official Cynthia Millen Quits, Protesting Lia Thomas’ Swimming Participation

by Emma Edmund 174

December 24th, 2021 College, Ivy League, News

Cynthia Millen, who has officiated for USA Swimming for 30 years, resigned last week in protest of Lia Thomas’ participation in women’s swimming.

Millen pulled out of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships, sharing her thoughts in a letter to USA Swimming, according to the Washington Times. In the letter, she expressed frustration that Thomas is allowed to swim as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s swim team.

Thomas is a transgender athlete. This year, she began competing with the women’s swim team after competing for three years on the men’s swim team and more than two-and-a-half years on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). She ranks first in the NCAA among women in the 200 and 500 freestyles this season and 6th in the 1650 free – a race she won by 38 seconds at the Zippy Invite.

Millen said that if she officiated at a meet that included Thomas, that she would rule Thomas ineligible to compete against female swimmers, according to the Times, even though Thomas has met the NCAA-established criteria to compete in women’s races.

“If Lia came on my deck as a referee, I would pull the coach aside and say, ‘Lia can swim, but Lia can swim exhibition or a time trial. Lia cannot compete against those women because that’s not fair,’” Millen told The Washington Times.

USA swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said in a podcast with Brett Hawke last week that Thomas is not a member of USA Swimming, nor was she a participant at the U.S. Paralympic National Championships.

NCAA requires transgender athletes to undergo, for transgender women, a year of testosterone-suppression treatment. Thomas has fulfilled the requirement, and neither the NCAA nor USA Swimming has commented on her season. Thomas has only swum at meets as part NCAA’s Division I, but her times could help her qualify and compete at Olympic Trials, a USA Swimming meet.

“I told my fellow officials that I can no longer participate in a sport which allows biological men to compete against women,” Millen wrote in her letter. Everything fair about swimming is being destroyed.”

Millen said that if she officiated the meets Thomas swam at, she wouldn’t allow Thomas to swim. She said, though, that it should be up to swimming authorities, not athletes, to decide who should be able to compete in certain competitions.

“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,” she said in the letter. “That’s a male body swimming against females. And that male body can never change. That male body will always be a male body.”

Millen also appeared on The Ingraham Angle, a show that airs on Fox News, to share her views. Millen emphasized the physical differences between men and women, saying that men swim 8-12 percent faster than women due to differences such as skeletal frame and lung capacity.

“Women, biologically, will never be faster than men,” Millen said on the show.

Millen’s comments reflect growing outrage over Thomas’ participation in the sport as a member of the Penn women’s team. But various organizations have come out in support of Thomas, as well, such as Outsports, an LGBTQ-focused sports publication, which has called the entire situation an example of “anti-trans panic.”

Another advocacy group, Athlete Ally, released a statement saying that Thomas deserves the opportunity to win and lose like everyone else.

As for Millen, she departs a job that provides only modest compensation at the highest level of the sport. Most USA Swimming officials are volunteers.

“If enough people walk off the deck,” Millen said, “or if enough referees say no, it will change. It’s wrong.”

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Real
7 months ago

Millen’s quitting officiating in USA swimming and Paralympics has no relevance to officiating at NCAA meet. We have been mislead.
Any official who applies to officiate at the NCAA Championships (all 3 Divisions) will be required to register as an NCAA official and pass the current NCAA rules test with a score of 85% or better.  

 

The test you take will depend on your current status.There is no limitation to the number of attempts to pass this test.The test is based upon the NCAA playing rules that are effective as of September 1, 2021.Tests must be taken September 1, 2021 or after to be considered. Tests taken before September 1, 2021 will not be considered. Passing scores are valid… Read more »

Real
7 months ago

Millen says nothing about quitting officiating collegiate swimming. Is she certified to officiate at NCAA meets.
Quitting USA SWIMMING officiating has nothing to due with collegiate officiating. Millen needs to learn the rules.
At least she gets alot of pubicity out of her statements.

Real
Reply to  Real
7 months ago

Any official who applies to officiate at the NCAA Championships (all 3 Divisions) will be required to register as an NCAA official and pass the current NCAA rules test with a score of 85% or better.  

 

The test you take will depend on your current status.There is no limitation to the number of attempts to pass this test.The test is based upon the NCAA playing rules that are effective as of September 1, 2021.Tests must be taken September 1, 2021 or after to be considered. Tests taken before September 1, 2021 will not be considered. Passing scores are valid through August 31, 2023.

Linda bee
7 months ago

Thomas deserves the opportunity to win and lose like everyone else.

But she isn’t like everyone else.

BigBrain
7 months ago

“Gender is a social construct” yet you insist on competing in an assigned “gender” class. If gender is some made up label by society then you should have no problem competing against anyone and any “gender”. Why insist you must compete against one or the other?

Think about it
7 months ago

Officials are some of the most broken people in life. Only control they have is officiating meets and they think they are gods making decisions about individuals swims. Disgusted by Millen and I hope the door hits her hard on the a$$ on the way out.

Nobody cares what officials think. They are quickly replaced.

Chipster
7 months ago

Let transgender have their own division.Let them compete against each other rather than the opposite sex.

ColeenMD
7 months ago

Transgender women need to compete in their own category- Transgender Women. Transgender women can swim w/ women, but their times do NOT compete w/ women only with other TRANSGENDER WOMEN.
Four categories:
Women
Men
Transgender Men
Transgender Women

swimfast
7 months ago

Sorry to say it, Lia, but if you end up winning Olympic Gold as a female it will not be very celebrated. You would be, as far as your legacy goes, much much much better off to just swim as a Trans Female against men and just try to clobber as many cis-gender men in races as possible. People will respect that WAYYYYYYYYYYY more than you trying to enter races as a female, against females.
THEN….down the road, if you earn fans’, spectators’, and most importantly fellow competitors’ respect, let them ‘invite’ you to swim with the females. I gotta say it looks very deaf and frankly super self righteous that you are assigning yourself to be “athletically female”.… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by swimfast
swimfast
Reply to  swimfast
7 months ago

Holy moly i didn’t know who Lia was and just googled her and she started HRT in her 20s???????? I thought this was all about someone who started it before puberty. Your height ALONE is grounds for complete disqualification.

Last edited 7 months ago by swimfast