Paula Scanlan, a former teammate of swimmer Will “Lia” Thomas at the University of Pennsylvania, said the school told her that there was no room to debate or negotiate about the transgender athlete swimming on the women’s team.
“I always thought that college is a place where you go and debate. When I got to college, I found that that wasn’t the case,” Ms. Scanlan said in an interview with EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders.”
Last year, Ms. Scanlan appeared anonymously in the Daily Wire documentary “What is a Woman?” which confronts many aspects of the transgender movement that are often overlooked or deliberately censored in mainstream discussions. She has recently decided to speak out in person, revealing more details about how UPenn handled the introduction of a male-born athlete to the female swim team.
“The documentary was originally supposed to come out when I was going to be still in college,” she told host Jan Jekielek, saying that it was “a little bit scary” to speak about her experience while still at the UPenn. “I think the biggest thing for me was just feeling like I wasn’t courageous enough at the time to do it, and I really needed to get out there.”
“In the fall of 2019, we were told that a member of the men’s team was going to be transitioning to the women’s team,” Ms. Scanlan said. That announcement didn’t fully materialize until the fall of 2021 when intercollegiate sports resumed after the pandemic pause.
“Funny enough, at the beginning, when this member of the men’s team announced the transition, we weren’t sure if Will was actually going to be in the locker room with us,” the young woman told Mr. Jekielek. “Some people would invite Will into the women’s locker room but would give us a warning, say, ‘Hey, guys, Will’s coming in. Is everyone decent?’ So at that point in the fall of 2019, a warning was justified.”
“But for some reason, two years later, there was no warning. Every single day that we changed in the same locker room,” she continued. “So I was asking, ‘What? Just because you’ve declared you’re a woman two years ago, then it [became] somehow okay [for you to use women’s locker room], when everything about you is still the same?’”
“That’s something I found very, very confusing, that just because you declare something is true in a short amount of time, it is suddenly true.”
The change prompted Ms. Scanlan to look up the rules by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), the governing body of competitive college-level sports. The rules at that time required male athletes to have undergone one year of testosterone suppression treatment in order to compete on a women’s team in any sport.
“When we started talking about what the policy was and how it wasn’t fair, people started throwing out the word ‘transphobic,’” the former swimmer said. “I never thought that pointing out that men and women are different would classify as hate speech.”
“We were told that we have to be inclusive in every single part for someone to feel comfortable with their new gender identity,” she said. “And it’s all about being inclusive at every single part of women’s spaces and women’s rights that they need to now be included on.
The university, apparently having sensed this uncomfortability among the women on the team, stepped in to address the issue. The solution, according to Ms. Scanlan, was to ask them to shut up.
“As the season went on, the University started coming in and telling us to stop speaking about it and that Lea swimming was a non-negotiable,” she told Mr. Jekielek. “They told us not to speak to the media … and we [would] regret speaking out if we do.”
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