A feminist organization is condemning the NCAA for staying silent amid a national controversy over the inclusion of a biologically male athlete in the recent NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships.
“We are deeply disappointed by the NCAA’s promotion and celebration of a male athlete over the wellbeing of female athletes during the past few months,” Mahri Irvine, the executive director of the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), said in a Thursday afternoon statement to The Daily Wire.
WoLF weighed in following a Daily Wire report exposing the NCAA’s silence as fathers, swimmers, and members of the public protest the inclusion of Lia Thomas, a biologically male athlete, in female races.
The NCAA has not responded to many requests for comment from The Daily Wire, despite highly publicized calls for action from Virginia Tech swimmer Reka Gyorgy and University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines — both of whom competed against Thomas and suffered for it.
“Lia Thomas has been portrayed by the NCAA as a woman who legitimately deserves to compete in women’s sports,” Irvine said. “However, nothing could be further from the truth.”
The WoLF executive director pointed to the fact that Thomas, who won the 500 freestyle last Thursday evening, tied for fifth in the 200 freestyle Friday evening, and placed eighth in the 100 freestyle, formerly raced with men for three years.
“Lia is a man who didn’t do particularly well in men’s swimming competitions,” Irvine said. “This man decided to say that he is a woman in order to gain access to women’s sports.”
WoLF is disappointed not just by the NCAA’s “silent treatment toward female athletes,” Irvine said. The organization is also “gravely concerned that the NCAA has chosen to engage in gaslighting of our entire country.”
“We all know that Lia Thomas is male, and we all know that the NCAA is engaging in psychological manipulation of athletes, coaches, sports fans, and the general public,” the WoLF executive director continued.
“We hope that the NCAA will somehow find the courage to admit that it has made serious errors in judgment related to this issue,” she added. “We hope that someday, the NCAA will actually start supporting female athletes instead of devaluing them and psychologically manipulating them.”
The Daily Wire also reached out to a slew of women’s advocacy groups for this story, including the Women’s March, Ultra Violet, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Emily’s List, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Ultra Violet declined to weigh in on the matter, while the rest of the organizations remained silent.
Gyorgy placed 17th in the 500 freestyle, meaning that she did not make it back to the finals, and was a first alternate. Had Thomas, a biological male, not participated, Gyorgy would have made it to the finals.
“I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future,” she wrote in a letter to the NCAA that she released Sunday. “It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmers who are competing in the NCAA.”
Gaines competed in the women’s 200 freestyle and tied for fifth place with Thomas. In an interview with The Daily Wire, she revealed that she was made to hold the sixth place trophy during award ceremony pictures, while Thomas was given the fifth place trophy.
The swimmer believes that the NCAA was “trying to save face” in elevating Thomas in this situation, telling The Daily Wire that the experience was “disheartening” and that she “left the pool with no trophy.”
“Who are we trying to protect here,” she questioned, “and who are we trying to fight for here?”
The NCAA Board of Governors updated its transgender participation policy in January, requiring transgender athletes to document “sport-specific” testosterone levels within their sport’s approved range at the beginning of the season and ahead of championship selections.