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UPenn swimmers wanted to boycott final home meet over transgender teammate Lia Thomas crushing records but fear backlash and jeopardizing chances of making elite Ivy League squad
Caitlyn Jenner has called on the National Collegiate Athletic Association to immediately stop transgender athletes like University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas from competing against their biological counterparts.
Jenner, 72, said Wednesday there was no doubt in her mind that the rules need to be changed - ahead of Thursday's meeting by the NCAA Board of Governors where they are expected to review rules on transgender athletes.
'All of this woke world that we are living in right now is not working,' said Jenner, who won a gold medal as Bruce in the men's decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics before transitioning to female in 2015.
'I feel sorry for the other athletes that are out there, especially at Penn or anybody she's competing against, because in the woke world, you've got to say, 'Oh, my gosh, this is great,' No, it's not.'
Caitlyn Jenner has said the 'woke world' is not working for women's sports and is calling on the NCAA to adjust their transgender policy for sports
Writing on Twitter, Jenner stated explicitly 'biological boys should not compete against biological boys'
Last week, Thomas, pictured, was crushed twice in a women's swim meet by another transgender competitor who is transitioning from female to male
Writing on Twitter, Jenner stated explicitly 'biological boys should not compete against biological boys.
She then went on Fox News and said: 'We need to protect women's sports, and the NCAA needs to make the right decision tomorrow, and I think that's probably to stop this right now, rethink it.'
Jenner's comments come on the heels of backlash faced by Thomas, 22, who currently holds the NCAA's fastest women's times this season in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.
The former athlete-turned-reality TV star said she could not understand why Thomas chose to swim against women after competing for three years on the men's team. She said that doing so was bad for both the transgender community and women's sports.
'It's unfortunate that this is happening. I don't know why she's doing it. She knows that when she's swimming, she's beating the competition by two laps,' Jenner said.
'She was born a biological boy, she was raised a biological boy. Her cardiovascular system is bigger. Her respiratory system is bigger. Her hands are bigger. She can swim faster. That's a known.'
Jenner said there was no doubt in her mind that the rules need to be changed and cited the case of UPenn swimming Lia Thomas, seen right
Thomas came out as transgender in 2019 and under NCAA rules was eligible to switch from the men's team to the women's after taking a year of testosterone suppressants
Under the current NCAA rules, a male-to-female transgender athlete is allowed to compete on the women's side after completing one year of hormone-suppression.
'We need to protect women's sports, and the NCAA needs to make the right decision tomorrow,' Jenner said.
Critics have suggested that amount of time is not long enough to rid any male physical advantage - and that trans athletes retain considerable power over female rivals because of their height and musculature.
UPenn and the Ivy League have publicly supported Thomas competing in swim meets. 'Lia Thomas has met or exceeded all NCAA protocols over the past two years for a transgender male student-athlete to compete for a women's team. She will continue to represent the Penn women's swimming team in competition this season.'
Jenner said that she believed with transitioning comes a certain responsibility.
'First of all, I respect her decision to live her life authentically, 100%, but that also comes with responsibility and some integrity. I don't know why she's doing this,' she said.
'One, it's not good for the trans community. I mean, we have a lot of issues in the trans community that are very difficult and very challenging. We have a suicide rate that's nine times higher than the general public. But it's also not good for women's sports,' Jenner added noting that the topic has been around for decades.
'Maybe the rules need to be a lot stricter on a subject like this. The International Olympic Committee has been looking at this issue for a long time. Back when I was competing, we had the East German women, we had the Soviet women. I mean, when I did my last lifting workout at the Olympics, there was an East German discus thrower and this girl was so much stronger than I was, we were all wondering if it was down to male hormones.'
Bruce Jenner celebrates during his record setting performance in the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada
Decathlete Bruce Jenner won the gold medal for the decathlon of the 1976 summer Olympics
The NCAA said it plans to review its current guidelines for male-to-female trans athletes on Thursday, but has yet to comment on whether changes might be afoot.
None of Thomas' fellow swimmers have voiced their opinion publicly on the matter, but some have spoken out anonymously to air their concerns, saying that Thomas is arrogant, her teammates are upset - and that their coach is just obsessed with winning.
'The current NCAA policy regarding when transgender females can compete in the women's category can be unfair to cisgender females and needs to be reviewed and changed in a transparent manner,' said the American Swimming Coaches Association said in a statement at the weekend.
The Ivy League, Penn and Harvard have also issued statements showing their support for Thomas and her participation in sports.
'The Ivy League reaffirms its unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all student-athletes while condemning transphobia and discrimination in any form,' the league said.
Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, 36, has reacted to the ongoing debate over trans college athlete Lia Thomas competing on women's swim team
Last week, champion swimmer Michael Phelps described the controversy as being 'very complicated' - before adding that sports need a 'level playing field' to be fair.
Phelps, the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals, compared the issue of athletes like Thomas to doping in order to secure a competitive advantage in the pool.
Speaking to CNN, Phelps was adamant that something needed to be done about current NCAA guidelines that allow Thomas to compete against swimmers born female - but was unable to share any specific ideas.
'I think this leads back to the organizing committees again because it has to be a level playing field. That's something that we all need. Because that's what sports are. For me, I don't know where this is going to go. I don't know what's going to happen.'
Phelps, who also holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 13, said he simply wants to see a fairness across the sport.
'I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field,' he said.
'I don't know what it looks like in the future. It's hard. It's very complicated and this is my sport, this has been my sport my whole entire career, and honestly the one thing I would love is everybody being able to compete on an even playing field.'
Phelps holds the all-time record for Olympic gold medals at 13. He says he simply wants to see a fairness across the sport
A group of swimmers on the University of Pennsylvania women's team were so upset over the advantages of transgender teammate Lia Thomas they considered boycotting their final home meet of the season next week, DailyMail.com has learned.
'They've been ignored by both Penn and the NCAA, and there is a feeling among some of the girls that they should make some sort of statement, seize the opportunity while they have a spotlight on them to make their feelings about the issue known,' a source close to the team of 41 women told DailyMail.com.
They've been discussing various possibilities for protest at the January 8 meet, wanting to express their opposition to NCAA rules that allow Thomas to compete on the women's team after completing one year of hormonal therapy, the source said.
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They ultimately decided against a boycott, for fear that it would keep them out of the Ivy League championship, where the team's top 17 swimmers - out of a total of 41 - will compete in February.
'Knowing they do not have backing from the school or NCAA, they're reluctant to jeopardize their opportunity to make the elite Ivy League squad,' the source said.
Several swimmers on the University of Pennsylvania swim team considered boycotting their final home meet of the season over the advantages of transgender teammate Lia Thomas, who has crushed records since competing on the women's team. Thomas is pictured cheering on her teammates
The swimmers ultimately decided against a boycott, for fear that it would keep them out of the Ivy League championship in February. UPenn's Swimming and Diving team is pictured in January 2020 . Thomas is pictured in the back row, fifth from the left
A source told DailyMail.com that will be difficult because Thomas will likely blow away the competition. There's also expectation that the crowd will react by cheering more for the second-place finisher than for Thomas, as occurred at the Zippy International
The team's final home meet will be held at the university in downtown Philadelphia, where they'll be competing against Dartmouth College.
It's the first competition since earlier this month when Thomas broke two national records at the Zippy International in Akron, Ohio.
Thomas previously competed on the UPenn men's swim team for three years as Will before transitioning
A week later, two of her teammates spoke out anonymously about their frustrations of having a transgender swimmer compete in female races after spending the first three years at Penn competing on the male team.
While the final home meet is traditionally a time tor the school to recognize seniors for their achievements, the swimmers have no illusion that the attention this year will be on Lia Thomas.
'It's a very emotional day and it's supposed to be a wonderful recognition for all the seniors have accomplished over the years,' one source told DailyMail.com. 'These girls are still determined to make sure they get the proper recognition and that their moment is celebrated as it should be.'
Another source told DailyMail.com that will be difficult because Thomas will likely blow away the competition. There's also expectation that the crowd will react by cheering more for the second-place finisher than for Thomas, as occurred at the Zippy International.
'It'll be like the last couple meets,' that source said. 'Lia will finish and nobody will give a sh*t. Then when the first biological female finishes, there will be a huge eruption of applause.'
How Thomas's teammates react may be less predictable.
Some of the swimmers had discussed doing a 'false start, or not swimming the event,' the first source said. 'But it wouldn't be the whole team, so it's an awkward situation.'
So they've been considering alternatives.
'If it were me, I'd step up with a sign on my chest stating something like - 'NCAA - Speak up. We need answers,' the parent of one of the swimmers told DailyMail.com. 'But it's possible the swimmers may end up doing nothing because they are so afraid to be perceived as transphobic.'
Thomas (pictured in 2016 and 2017, respectively) was a star swimmer in high school
UPenn swim team recently posted about one of Lia's records in the 200m freestyle (pictured)