ATLANTA — Concerned Women for America filed Thursday a federal civil rights complaint against the University of Pennsylvania over Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer who has smashed women’s records after transitioning to female.
The complaint accusing the university of “refusing to protect the rights of college female athletes” under Title IX was filed on the first day of the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, where the UPenn senior is a leading contender.
“The future of women’s sports is at risk and the equal rights of female athletes are being infringed,” said Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America. “We filed a formal civil rights complaint against UPenn in response to this injustice.”
The 22-year-old Thomas, who swam for three years on the men’s team, was permitted to join the women’s team for the 2021-22 season after complying with NCAA rules requiring a year of testosterone suppression.
“Any school that defies federal civil rights law by denying women equal opportunities in athletic programs, forcing women to compete against athletes who are biologically male must be held accountable,” Ms. Nance said.
The conservative group’s five-page complaint alleging “egregious violations of the protections for women on the basis of sex” was filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
The Washington Times has reached out for comment to the university, which has previously expressed support for Thomas.
“As a member of the NCAA, Penn is governed by the policies of the national governing body,” UPenn Athletics said in a Jan. 6 statement. “Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender female student-athlete to compete for a women’s team. She will continue to represent the Penn women’s swimming team in competition this season.”
Thomas is the top seed in the women’s 200- and 500-yard freestyle races, and the 10th seed in the 100-yard freestyle. A victory would make Thomas the first male-born athlete to win an NCAA Division I women’s title.
Foes of allowing biological males in female sports argue that Thomas has physical advantages unmuted by testosterone suppression alone.
“Thomas is anatomically and biologically a male with physical capacities that are different from anatomically and biologically female athletes, which extends an unfair advantage and strips female student-athletes of opportunities afforded to them by law,” CWA. said
The group cited in its complaint “reports that Thomas‘ own teammates have complained about UPenn allowing a hostile environment to fester in its locker room which has put them in apprehension.”
Last month, 16 unnamed members of the Penn swim team urged the university to accept tougher standards on male-born athletes in women’s sports. At least two Penn swimming teammates have complained anonymously to media outlets, as has an anonymous mother of an Ivy League swimmer.
The Penn swimming and diving team also released a statement last month in support of Thomas representing “several” members of the squad, according to ESPN.
Thomas was named High-Point Swimmer of the Meet at last month’s Ivy League swimming championships after winning three races and breaking five individual pool, meet and program records.
“I’m a woman, so I belong on the women’s team. Trans people deserve that same respect every other athlete gets,” Thomas told Sports Illustrated in a March 3 interview.
The CWA said allowing Thomas to compete in the Ivy League and NCAA came in “direct violation” of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education, including scholastic sports.
The NCAA Division I championships began Wednesday and run through Saturday at McAuley Aquatic Center at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.