The NCAA announced all 577 nominees — up to two female student-athletes per eligible school — on Thursday.
The award was established in 1991 and meant to recognize “female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers.”
Thomas, 22, competed on the men’s team at the University of Pennsylvania before coming out as transgender in 2019 and starting testosterone blockers and estrogen. Last year, the swimmer competed on the women’s team, sparking a national debate. In March, Thomas won the NCAA Division I national championship after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle event.
Some teammates have spoken out over the inclusion of Thomas, due to physical advantages the athlete has as a biological male.
One UPenn female swimmer, who remained anonymous out of fear of retribution, told bestselling author and podcast host Matt Walsh in The Daily Wire’s groundbreaking documentary “What Is a Woman?” that even basic concerns about the locker room were not allowed to be brought up. If they were, she said, it was clear you’d be smeared as “transphobic.”
Notably, Thomas still has a penis and has not had surgery to remove it and dates females, according to teammates.
“If you even brought up concerns about it, you were ‘transphobic,’” she told Walsh.
“If you even bring up the fact that Lia’s swimming might not be fair, you’re immediately shut down and called a hateful person, or transphobic,” she continued.
In another instance, the mother of a female swimmer who has personally competed against Lia Thomas complained that a “full-grown male” was now being allowed to “take” from female competitors and break their hard-earned records, The Daily Wire reported.
“Holy cow, we’re going to talk about a male swimmer — a full-grown male — attempting to take down female icon records, and taking a spot on an Ivy team from one of the Penn swimmers, who have rightfully deserved it,” she told Independent Women’s Forum, according to the Post Millennial. “And we’re talking about, this person’s gonna swim on every relay going forward at championship meets, is going to take the position of a woman on a travel team, is going to take a space in every finals.”
Girls were “frightened” to speak out about the inequality after they were warned to keep their mouths shut, the mother claimed.
“And they’re frightened,” the woman said. “They’re frightened of losing friends. They’re frightened of being kicked off their teams. They’re frightened of being told by their universities that they’re transphobic and hateful.”
Mairead Elordi contributed to this report.