UPenn has come under fire after nominating transgender swimmer Lia Thomas for the Woman of the Year award.
Lia Thomas has sparked a heated debate concerning trans athletes’ rights to participate in women’s sports after becoming the first transgender swimmer to become an NCAA champion following her March 2022 win in the 500-yard freestyle.
Now, a fresh argument involving the 22-year-old swimmer emerged after the University of Pennsylvania nominated Thomas for the National College Athletics Association’s Woman of the Year award.
Nominated for the NCAA award is also tennis player Luliia Bryzgalova from Russia.
While each school is normally allowed only one nomination, two nominations are permitted when one of the nominees is an exchange student.
UPenn’s decision to further endorse their swimming champion comes after FINA, an international federation administering and governing water sports, effectively banned transgender women who underwent male puberty from professional swimming competitions over their alleged physical advantage.
The nomination has sparked outrage and calls for reconsideration across the nation.
“UPenn must have forgotten that in order to qualify for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, one must actually be a woman,” Young America’s Foundation tweeted.
“There is nothing brave about competing against people whom you have a biological advantage over. Shame on them for nominating Lia Thomas.”
Meanwhile, some UPenn swimmers spoke out and suggested the university made it clear that objecting to Lia Thomas and her winnings could get students in serious trouble.
“They’ve made it pretty clear, if you speak up about it, your life will be over in some way, you’ll be blasted all over the internet as a ‘transphobe,’ … you’ll never be able to get a job,” one girl said in an interview with Matt Walsh last month.
Another student suggested the university might be so adamant about protecting Lia Thomas because she helps them get better ratings.
“Lia obviously helps us do better. She is swimming really fast. Her performance helps the UPenn swim team. The feeling of winning doesn’t feel as good anymore because it feels tainted,” the other girl said.
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