Penn's women’s swimming and diving team released a statement on Tuesday expressing support of transgender swimmer and teammate Lia Thomas, the College senior at the center of national controversy regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports.
"We want to express our full support for Lia in her transition. We value her as a person, teammate, and friend,” the team said in the Feb. 1 statement, as first reported by ESPN. The statement referred to a Fox News interview with an anonymous member of the women’s swimming and diving team who opposes the University's decision to allow Thomas to compete.
“The sentiments put forward by an anonymous member of our team are not representative of the feelings, values, and opinions of the entire Penn team, composed of 39 women with diverse backgrounds," the team's statement read.
Penn Athletics declined to comment on the women’s swimming and diving team in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Thomas broke several records at the Zippy Invitational in December, where she qualified for the NCAA championships after winning the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle. Thomas, who has undergone more than two years of hormone replacement therapy, made the best times in collegiate women's swimming for two events this season.
Shortly after Thomas' wins, which led to widespread media coverage, the NCAA delegated rules associated with transgender involvement to each sport’s governing bodies.
The newly adopted standard by the NCAA now states that guidelines on the eligibility of transgender athletes will be determined by the national governing body of each individual sport.
Amid the controversy, USA Swimming released a new policy on Feb. 1 establishing eligibility guidelines on transgender athletes' participation in elite events. The policy will apply to transgender athletes who are seeking to set records in the 13-14 age group and older, or those who wish to set American records, according to USA Swimming Rules & Regulations.
"The development of the elite policy therefore acknowledges a competitive difference in the male and female categories and the disadvantages this presents in elite head-to-head competition," USA Swimming said in a statement.
The Athletic Inclusion, Competitive Equity and Eligibility Policy by USA Swimming establishes that transgender women must maintain a concentration of testosterone in their serum at less than five nanomoles per liter for at least 36 months before the date of application, and also provide evidence that they do not have a competitive advantage over cisgender female competitors. The Olympic standard for transgender athletes is 10 nanomoles per liter, double the new US Swimming standard.
USA Swimming's updated guidelines come just weeks before the NCAA championships, which are scheduled for March.