Official Cynthia Millen Quits, Protesting Lia Thomas’ Swimming Participation

by Emma Edmund 179

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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matt
24 days ago

thanks cynthia. this transgender thing shouldnt even be an argument!! lia thomas should not swim with girls

cynthia curran
Reply to  matt
24 days ago

I have a solution. Lia Thomas has to swim Lia Thomas’s worst stroke in Competion. Not certain what that is, let’s say Breaststroke. If Lia Thomas is only a 59 to 1:02 breaststroke that solves a lot of problems. In fact if you are transgender and want to swim in women’s events, you need to swim your worst stroke not your best stroke to make it a more level playing field

Irish Ringer
Reply to  cynthia curran
24 days ago

That’s just avoiding the topic. Either Lia swims or doesn’t.

its ya bouy
Reply to  cynthia curran
24 days ago

what

Mid major
Reply to  cynthia curran
24 days ago

Cynthia I need the name of whatever dealer gave you something good enough to come up with some absolute nonsense like this as a solution to the problem

1650butterfly
Reply to  cynthia curran
23 days ago

I say let Lia be Lia and swim identifying as a woman BUT swimming against males. Lia was a great swimmer before she transitioned and had lots of success as a male, so putting her in male heats wouldn’t be detrimental and would allow her to compete as herself but with proper competition. Plus, there are PLEANTY of women who could beat men, look at Lilly King or Regan Smith for example, there’s tons of men out there that would love to go a :55 100 breast or 1:47 200 back!

Last edited 23 days ago by 1650butterfly
Stallion06
Reply to  matt
16 days ago

I was going to like this but it’s currently at 420 likes. Not need to fix what isn’t broken

SCCOACH
24 days ago

Wow she bailed on the paralympians because she was so upset about Lia Thomas.

Jimbob
Reply to  SCCOACH
24 days ago

She bailed on USA Swimming because they’re not going to do anything about this.

jeff
Reply to  Jimbob
24 days ago

because there’s nothing they can do

Think about it
Reply to  Jimbob
20 days ago

George Wallace was a very principled person. I Guess Millen is as well.

obvious
Reply to  Think about it
18 days ago

actually comparing millen to george wallace is a grievous insult to the people that suffered for civil rights in the 1960s.

george wallace unleashed violent cops, church bombings, lynchings, and vicious german shepards on people for the crime of trying to buy food.

Millen is resigning in protest over the completely obvious proposition that letting biological men compete against women destroys the integrity of women’s sport. comparing her to wallace is basically saying “oh hey i’m exceedingly unintelligent and bad at moral reasoning.”

this is only controversial because 90% of people are completely terrified that stating the obvious will result in professional and social immolation

Purple People Feeter
Reply to  obvious
18 days ago

this is only controversial because 90% of people are completely terrified that stating the obvious will result in professional and social immolation

Isn’t this a self-inflicted wound though? People have gotten canceled for being awful, mostly, in real life, but people have portrayed that as you can be canceled for not being awful.

Who that has stated their opinion in a rational way without fear-mongering or personal attacks or misgendering or being awful has been canceled? Cynthia Millen got some pushback because the way she chose to protest was pretty BS, harmful to others, and clearly grandstanding, but has she been ‘canceled’? She ‘canceled’ herself, right? By resigning? But any evidence of anything beyond that?

Has Erika Brown lost a… Read more »

John
Reply to  SCCOACH
24 days ago

And to boot, USA swimming can’t do anything yet as Lia has not been a registered member in two years. I’m struggling to understand what she expected the outcome to be from this protest.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  John
24 days ago

Publicity and media coverage to air her views.

Caleb
Reply to  John
24 days ago

She got herself on TV!

Collegeswammer
24 days ago

Oh boy. I don’t know what the best answer is the please all parties, but I suspect this is gonna get worse before it gets better. Wishing the best for all people involved and I hope the NCAA, FINA, etc. can figure out a way to involve all people in a way that doesn’t make some athletes feel slighted, or make others like Lia feel like they can’t show themselves.

Hmm
Reply to  Collegeswammer
24 days ago

Easiest solution is they compete in the open division.

Dressel_42.8
24 days ago

The beginning of a movement. Speaking of movements, swimmers make sure you consume fiber in a consistent manner so you can have normal bowel movements.

Bossanova
24 days ago

Millen is just trying to run a grift. That’s why she went on Ingraham.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Bossanova
24 days ago

The Washington Times is another similar venue.

This is just another culture war issue to these people. (Thomas was highly unlikely to swim at a meet this lady is officiating, it’s just grandstanding.)

Chris Pierson
Reply to  Steve Nolan
24 days ago

I knew Cindy personally. For 10 years I used to respect her. Then I found out her true colors. I personally know of her trying to get someone fired for being gay. It took a while but I eventually realized Cindy is Dolores Umbridge, she can act very nice but ultimately Cindy cares only about Cindy and will do whatever it takes to further her interests and act like a martyr.

Stewie
Reply to  Bossanova
24 days ago

… “and face masks are tyranny!!!!”

Notaswimmer
24 days ago

The transphobia is actually disgusting

Phelp’s dog
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

Clash of clans

Underwearer
Reply to  Phelp’s dog
24 days ago

Fortnite

Minecrafter
Reply to  Underwearer
24 days ago

Roblox

k-ly
Reply to  Minecrafter
24 days ago

clash royal

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

Not everything is transphobia.

Notaswimmer
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
24 days ago

Im not sure what you think actively hating on someone for being themselves and for doing what they love is in this situation besides transphobia. She’s literally following all of the rules and everyone is being so cruel to her. It’s so sad.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

I would call it “a breakdown of the system of classification and categorization that makes competition in our sport meaningful”.
In virtually all athletic sports, college athletes don’t compete against age groupers. Olympians don’t compete against paralympians. NFL players don’t compete against Pop Warner kids. And men don’t compete against women.
But something tells me you are going to read active hate into everyone’s desire to keep these categories logical, meaningful and appropriate. I guess that’s your perogative.

Coach CG
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
24 days ago

Precisely. Stay on the ball, My Friend.

Logic?
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

I feel for Lia, and yes she is following the rules. But the rules need to be revised.
a biological male had advantages over biological females, regardless of testosterone suppression. Overall size, muscle mass, Lung capacity will still give her an advantage.

there is no easy answer, but what’s happening is not fair to biological females.

swimfast
Reply to  Logic?
22 days ago

don’t forget hips……..

Think about it
Reply to  Logic?
20 days ago

You think she could beat Ledecky? No. So stop with the George Wallace behavior.

Swimmingrules!!!
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

You understand that Lia Thomas already went through puberty as a male. That means she had testosterone flowing through her veins since she was 12 or 13. That is almost like putting a girl on steroids for that long. DO YOU GET HOW THAT IS UNFAIR!

Patrick Keenan
Reply to  Swimmingrules!!!
23 days ago

While somethings indeed here are unfair, its CLEARLY misdirected. Why Lia? Who has duly followed all the rules set up for this situation. Correct? If she broke an NCAA rule as a student athlete, then I agree that if whatever the violation of NCAA rules Lia broke, and then NCAA executives refused to impose punishment or remove her right to partake in sports, THEN THAT IS WHAT IS UNFAIR. Or am I wrong on that?
No matter the situation in society, or one’s moral/ethical beliefs, lets pretend that Lia – no, make that ANY NCAA student athlete- actively breaks an NCAA rule. And that in the NCAA charter, there are a set of guidelines for punishments (suspension, expulsion from… Read more »

swimfast
Reply to  Patrick Keenan
22 days ago

The rules need to be amended, clearly.

John
Reply to  swimfast
10 days ago

Its clear if u where born a girl u compete with girl. If u trans u compete with trans. Simple

fortnox
Reply to  Patrick Keenan
21 days ago

Doesnt appear that you have ever competed in a sport. Your just talking about rules, not that you have a biological male, competing with a biological females. If you need to have this explained, then there is no point in going any further Even Caitlyn Jenner agrees that this is not right.

Bill Price
Reply to  Patrick Keenan
20 days ago

You’re really not getting it. This isn’t even about Lia Thomas, it’s about the rules. Of course she followed the rules — that’s why she’s there! The problem is that the rules allow this; they allow biological males to compete with women. It’s easy to try and change the focus of this issue onto the athlete but that’s not the issue. The only thing focusing on the athlete does is allow you to bash those who think something is wrong with the situation.

Dudeman
Reply to  Swimmingrules!!!
19 days ago

It’s not “almost like” it’s equivalent to putting a girl on steroids. The average female has around 50 nanograms/deciliter of testosterone, an average male will have around 500, and that’s on the lower end. A healthy biological male experiencing male puberty will likely have much higher levels than that, for almost a decade. Even with suppression they only have to be under ~130ng/dl so with hormone therapy Lia can still have 2-4x more testosterone in her body than her biological female competitors in some instances

Patrick Keenan
Reply to  Notaswimmer
23 days ago

I agree. I can’t even begin to understand the meaning behind “not everything is transphobia”, ESPECIALLY as a response to this article, but what I think you (BearlyBreathing) and I can agree on, compared with Notaswimmer- is that WITH self education, or even in person, non biased science & psychological based education, along with an open minded, non biased, unconditional approach with a willingness to become educated, perhaps that statement would not only be more clear in whatever the intention is/was behind it, but it may not have even appeared here, being that it’s tone is to an extent obviously an offensive remark at those who ARE transphobic.

swimmer
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

I personally don’t see this as transphobia. It isn’t fair that these women’s events are suddenly dominated by someone who spent nearly 20 years as a male.

Mr. Pack
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

Didn’t know not wanting biological males to not compete against biological females was transphobia.

Meeeee
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

No one seems to be afraid. But rather simply think the competitive part of the situation is unfair.

Horninco
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

Don’t assume every opinion is binary

Last edited 24 days ago by Horninco
HJones
Reply to  Notaswimmer
24 days ago

I’ll ask this again, as I have on another article: how is it transphobic to point out swimmers who have gone through male puberty have a distinct, scientifically-proven advantage over those who have not gone through male puberty?

Patrick Keenan
Reply to  HJones
23 days ago

why iis it transphobic? If it isn’t transphobic, please give me an example of a statement or part of an argument in your thoughts on the subject that has not any bit of negativity, insinuation that they aren’t also part of the human race and as such are and should be treated with at least dignity, civility and equality on a human level. As well as making your argument with words not sounding as if that community is marginalized, not worthy respect, kindness and understanding; don’t make it out as if they’re freaks seeking an unfair advantage. Okay; go!

HJones
Reply to  Patrick Keenan
23 days ago

Um, let me ask you this: how does my comment have any negativity, insinuation that they aren’t also part of the human race and as such are and should be treated with at least dignity, civility, and equality on a human level”? The burden of proof is on you, the accuser. Okay, go!

I shouldn’t have to prove that I’m not transphobic, despite the fact that there isn’t a shred of transphobia in my comments. If you seriously think what I’ve said is transphobic, then you are either so delusionally progressive that you’ve lost touch with reality or you have awful reading comprehension skills.

Yea, it sucks that the trans community has gone through some really awful stuff,… Read more »

Mr. Pack
24 days ago

Good.

Horninco
24 days ago

How many women are transitioning to men and trying to compete? Serious question

Taking suppression therapy for a year, or even 3-4 years, does not come close to eliminating the inherent advantage of developing as a male and all the skeletal and muscle growth that comes with that testosterone over the course of 18+ years.

It’s inherently unfair to the girls that grew up as girls. It’s not a fair fight. Even an above average male high school swimmer can be an all-American, even all-world female. We are seeing it right now.

The NCAA made a good faith effort to try to address this issue and be inclusive, but if followed on a wider scale it will… Read more »

Riccardo
Reply to  Horninco
24 days ago

Even the IOC and WADA guidelines are a joke.

The total testosterone limit limit for a trans participant is 4-6x what an elite female will have.

The free testosterone limit is even crazier because of the way SHBG’s interact with testosterone and DHT in males. For this reason even if a trans athlete has comparable total testosterone to a female competitor their free testosterone will likely be double at a minimum.

This doesn’t even take into account the years of development as a male.

Last edited 24 days ago by Riccardo
Steve Nolan
Reply to  Horninco
24 days ago

“The NCAA made a good faith effort to try to address this issue and be inclusive, but if followed on a wider scale it will be become EX-clusive of girls that were born female”

The rules Lia is complying with have been the NCAA’s rule for ten years.

Masters Swammer
Reply to  Horninco
24 days ago

Schuyler Bailar is a trans man who swam for Harvard a few years ago. There was some press, but relatively less controversy.

lol
Reply to  Masters Swammer
24 days ago

Because a trans man will not compete for a high stakes spot against men. No one would complain if a woman wanted to compete against men or if women race in open categories. It makes no difference to the men.

NE Swim Mom
Reply to  Masters Swammer
24 days ago

Big difference: Lia competed trained and as a man for 3 years in college before deciding to compete against women. It’s a different situation that Schuyler’s.

Masters Swammer
Reply to  NE Swim Mom
23 days ago

I’m merely responding to the post that seems to insinuate that there are no trans male athletes (only trans females). It’s not a mystery to me why the latter is more controversial, but in both cases, I believe the student athletes are doing the best they can (being true to themselves, within the NCAA rules).

M d e
Reply to  Masters Swammer
24 days ago

Because they were disadvantaged, not advantaged, so they didn’t have any success.

Rosie
Reply to  Masters Swammer
24 days ago

Schuyler actually made the Harvard women’s team and was one of the country’s top 20 breast stroke swimmers, setting a national record. After Schuyler transitioned, he was offered a position on the men’s team and came in last every competition.

fortnox
Reply to  Horninco
21 days ago

the NCAA got it wrong. I still have not heard of one biological female, who has undergone any kind of transgender treatments, trying to compete as a male. The only way this would work, would be to let Lia Thomas swim in a female event, but have her own time considered a separate event.

Braden Keith(@braden)
Admin
Reply to  fortnox
20 days ago

There is a very relevant example of a transgender man competing in men’s athletics in the NCAA after transitioning. One in the very same conference as Lia in the very same sport: Schuyler Bailar.

Now you can no longer say you have “never heard of one.”