Lia Thomas’ former UPenn swimming teammate Paula Scanlan has lashed out at the Democratic party for putting ‘trans rights’ above women’s fears.
In a scathing opinion piece, Scanlan shared concerns around transgender athletes entering woman-only spaces.
The 23-year-old, who began swimming at the age of eight, is motivated to raise awareness around transwomen competing in female divisions.
She used to swim at the University of Pennsylvania alongside Thomas whose participation in female events ignited fierce debate about athletes competing as a different sex to the one they were born.
On Thursday, she confessed to having nightmares for weeks after they were made to share a changing room.
Now, in a strong-worded opinion piece for the Telegraph, she laid bare the potential risk women face if they’re aren’t considered in the ongoing inclusivity efforts.
Lia Thomas’ former UPenn swimming mate voiced concerns at the Democratic party over the inclusivity of transwomen in female spaces
Lia Thomas triggered a wave of controversy after switching over to the women’s team in 2021
She set seven UPenn women’s teams records (five individual) and won three individual events at the Ivy League Championships in February 2022
While testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government last week, Scanlan put forward the issue of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports.
She urged lawmakers to put women’s physical safety first when making decisions about women-only spaces like locker rooms.
Scanlan referenced Hollywood’s #MeToo movement in her speech which was started by women speaking out about their experiences, which in turn, raised awareness of a range of forms of mistreatment.
‘Some slogans like “Believe All Women” were met with criticism, because they conflicted with the important principles of “innocent until proven guilty” and due process for the accused,’ she wrote.
‘But we can all agree that the intimidation and harassment of women is wrong. What a shame, then, that we can’t seem to agree on what a woman actually is.’
Scanlan, whose college swimming career is over, testified in defense of women’s sports
In her writing, Scanlan called for opportunities for everyone, including transwomen, to have safe spaces, but not at the cost of invading cig-gendered females.
She wondered what happened to the #MeToo movement and why it had disappeared from being a topic of as much importance, but suspected she had a clue.
‘The obvious answer is that #MeToo was absorbed, as so sadly has been the case with many other women’s organizations in the US, into the Democratic Party,’ she said.
‘They have prioritized the advancement of “trans rights” over the concerns of women, in the mistaken belief that this is somehow more compassionate and progressive.’
While she was hesitant to make generalizations about the potential harm this could cause, she put forward a series of arguments to try and get her point across.
‘While we should all balk at broad-stroke mischaracterizations of trans-identifying people as all being potentially violent, we should keep in mind that the inherent biological characteristics and functions of male bodies pose a risk.
Scanlan says Thomas’ presence in woman’s spaces made others, including her, uncomfortable
‘Given today’s shift, a man – perhaps a domestic abuser with no history of gender dysphoria – could potentially follow his female victim to a women-only shelter, and those tasked with safeguarding would be powerless to deny him entry to what once was a sacred safe space.
‘After-all, he only need tell them that he identifies as a woman to gain entry.’
Scanlan, who was reportedly a victim of sexual assault in a bathroom as a 16-year-old, previously shared that Thomas’ presence brought up previous trauma from her adolescence.
‘In general, bathrooms were a place I felt really uncomfortable,’ she told the New York Post. ‘I would just kind of relive the situation that I went through when I was 16.
‘I would be at my locker and then all of a sudden hear a masculine voice, and I would just jump. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, somebody got in here”.
‘It’s incredibly vulnerable,’ Scanlan continued. ‘I had nightmares for weeks about men being there while we were dressing.’
Thomas triggered a wave of controversy after switching over to the women’s team in 2021.
She set seven UPenn women’s teams records (five individual) and won three individual events at the Ivy League Championships in February 2022.
Thomas set records as a women’s swimmer at UPenn after transitioning
While Thomas’ college career is over, Scanlan still believes the issue is an important one
Thomas defended her place in women’s swimming in an interview with Sports Illustrated last year.
‘I’m a woman, just like anybody else on the team,’ she said.
‘I’ve always viewed myself as just a swimmer. It’s what I’ve done for so long; it’s what I love.’
However, her critics have even included those in the transgender community, with Olympic champion Caitlyn Jenner not agreeing with Thomas being allowed to compete as a woman.
‘I’ve been consistent in how I’ve approached transgender athletes and it depends on the sport. Every sport is different,’ she told Fox News earlier this year.
‘Obviously, we saw with Lia Thomas she had gone through male puberty, bigger cardiovascular system, it just wasn’t fair.’
While Thomas’ college career is over, Scanlan still believes the issue is an important one.
‘If there had been a man on my team in high school, I would have quit, and I would literally have nothing,’ she told The Post. ‘I would never have gotten into a good college. My entire life would have been derailed.
‘If even one girl is discouraged from competing in sports over this, we’ve failed,’ Scanlan added. ‘It’s so important to give girls these same opportunities.’