The letter was written by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO of Champion Women and Olympic swimming champion, on behalf of 16 swim team members.
New NCAA policies could potentially prevent swimmer Lia Thomas from competing in the NCAA Championships in March.
Thomas, a transgender woman who swims for the Quakers women’s swim team, won the women’s 100 and 200 meter freestyle at Harvard last month and set record times on the women’s team this season. She had previously competed on Penn’s men’s swim team and had undergone two years of hormone therapy.
In the letter obtained by CNN, members of the swim team say they believe she has an “unfair advantage over the competition.”
“We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and transition from male to female. Lia has every right to live her life authentically,” the letter reads. “However, we also recognize that when it comes to athletic competition, the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the female category, as in evidenced by her rankings which have rebounded from #462 as a male to #1 as a female.”
The identities of the teammates have not been revealed.
The new NCAA policy states that transgender athletes will now have mandatory testosterone testing, starting in the 2022-23 academic year – at the start of their season and again six months later, under rules approved this week by the NCAA Board of Governors. In addition, they will have to be tested four weeks before the championship trials.
The NCAA previously required transgender women to undergo testosterone suppression treatment for a year before competing on a women’s team.
Penn Athletics said it will work with the NCAA regarding Thomas’ participation in the 2022 Swimming and Diving Championship in March.
The Ivy League said it does “not publicly respond to letters submitted to our office.”
CNN reached out to the school for comment, but did not immediately receive a response before this story was published.
The letter comes after several members of the UPenn swim and dive team expressed their support for Thomas earlier this week.
“We want to express our full support for Lia in her transition,” the athletes said via ESPN. “We appreciate her as a person, teammate and friend. The sentiments expressed by an anonymous member of our team are not representative of the sentiments, values and opinions of the entire Penn team of 39 women from diverse backgrounds.”
UPenn is next scheduled to compete February 16-19 at the Ivy League Championships at Harvard. Thomas has qualified for the NCAA Championships, which take place March 16-19 in Atlanta.