A veteran USA Swimming official of three decades has resigned in protest over the University of Pennsylvania’s allowance of Lia Thomas to compete on the university women’s swimming team after competing for three years on the men’s team.
Cynthia Millen, who has been actively officiating swimming for approximately 30 years, resigned on Dec. 17, saying that she believes trans-identified biologically male athletes should not be allowed to compete in women’s swimming meets.
“I told my fellow officials that I can no longer participate in a sport which allows biological men to compete against women,” Millen wrote in a resignation letter, according to Swimming World.
“Everything fair about swimming is being destroyed. If Lia came on my deck as a referee, I would pull the coach aside and say, ‘Lia can swim, but Lia can swim exhibition or a time trial. Lia cannot compete against those women because that’s not fair.’”
In an interview with guest host Sean Duffy on Monday’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show, Millen said it is fundamentally unfair for males to compete against females.
“The fact is that swimming is a sport in which bodies compete against bodies. Identities do not compete against identities. And from the very beginning, when you start out as an age grouper, swimmers are divided by sex and by age group,” Millen said.
“From the very beginning, USA Swimming recognizes that boys swim differently than girls.”
Millen added that differences are accentuated once boys and girls undergo puberty.
“Boys will always have larger lung capacity, larger hearts, greater circulation, a bigger skeleton, and less fat. Girls go through puberty, and they have a double whammy. They not only grow breasts and hips but they have periods and they often have a totally different center of gravity. They have to learn how to swim over again,” she explained.
Thomas, a biologically male trans-identified athlete, has broken women’s swim records. The student’s participation on the Penn women’s team is the latest episode in the ongoing cultural conflict over “gender identity,” particularly in the athletic arena, where the conflict is especially visible.
“While Lia Thomas is a child of God, he is a biological male who is competing against women. And no matter how much testosterone drugs he takes, he will always be a biological male and have this advantage,” Millen said.
“The statement for women is ‘You don’t matter; what you do is not important.’ And girls are going to be thrown under the bus by all this. He’s going to be destroying women’s swimming.”
Thomas has broken several University of Pennsylvania records this season by wide margins. In one 1650-meter freestyle race, the second-place finisher was approximately 38 seconds behind the trans-identified male swimmer.
The longtime swimming official claimed she is receiving many letters from dads and moms expressing their support and that past Olympians and professional athletes are coming forward to say that allowing males to compete against women is wrong. Among them is former Olympian Sharron Davies, who won a Silver medal in women’s 400-meter individual medley in the 1980 Olympic games.
Beth Stelzer, the founder of the grassroots group Save Women’s Sports, said it was brave for Millen to resign and object publicly. In recent years, Stelzer has lobbied state legislatures to pass laws requiring athletics to be maintained based on biological sex.
“We will see that her courage will inspire many others to say that enough is enough,” Stelzer said in an email to The Christian Post Tuesday.
“This is like the tale The Emperor’s New Clothes. Women like Cynthia and I are some of the first to point out the obvious. It won’t be long and others will be speaking the truth too. I encourage all administration, officials, and athletes to step up and save women’s sports,” she said.
Some of Thomas’ teammates have reportedly spoken out about the athlete’s inclusion on the women’s team in anonymous interviews with the sports website OutKick.
Thomas’ participation in NCAA women’s competition is “based on NCAA established criteria for participation,” USA Swimming said in a statement shared by The New York Post.
The NCAA requirements include undergoing hormone suppression for a year before competing in women's competition.
The policy states: “A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.”
The progressive civil rights organization American Civil Liberties Union has denied the claim that "unfair" advantage exists because trans-identified "athletes vary in athletic ability just like cisgender athletes" and that success often comes down to technique and training.