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Who is UPenn's athletic director? Female swimmers forced to undress next to '6-foot-4 biological male' Lia Thomas

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Jul 28, 2023, 11:11:13 PM7/28/23
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: In a powerful testimony before the House
Judiciary Committee, Paula Scanlan, a former NCAA Division I swimmer and
an advisor at the Independent Women's Forum, shed light on the contentious
issue of transgender athlete Lia Thomas' participation in women's swimming
competitions at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Scanlan accused the
university of dismissing the concerns of female athletes who were
uncomfortable undressing beside Thomas, "a 6-foot-4 tall, biological male
with fully intact male genitalia", during swimming practices.

Paula Scanlan's testimony
Scanlan told lawmakers on Thursday, July 27, "My teammates and I were
forced to undress in the presence of Lia, a 6-foot-4 tall, biological
male, with fully intact male genitalia, 18 times per week. Some girls
opted to change in bathroom stalls and others used the family bathroom to
avoid this." She expressed the frustration and humiliation the female
swimmers felt as they raised complaints with the athletic department, only
to be told that Thomas' presence was "non-negotiable."

The university officials suggested that counseling could "reeducate" the
women athletes to become comfortable with the idea of undressing in front
of a male. "To sum up the university's response, we, the women, were the
problem, not the victims," Scanlan passionately asserted. "We were
expected to conform, to move over and shut up. Our feelings didn't matter.
The university was gaslighting and fearmongering women to validate the
feelings and identity of a male."

Who is UPenn's athletic director?
Amidst the controversy, Alanna W Shanahan is serving her third year as the
Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Pennsylvania..
During her tenure, Penn has achieved notable competitive success, with the
university's teams securing a school-record 60th rank in the Learfield
Directors' Cup in both 2021-22 and 2022-23, outperforming over 350
Division I programs. The Quakers have also secured nine regular-season
conference team championships and five postseason conference titles under
Shanahan's leadership. That said, Shanahan has raised eyebrows in her
handling of the backlash from the Lia Thomas controversy.

Having previously competed on the male team, Thomas transitioned in 2019
and joined the female team in 2021. Her participation in women's swimming
competitions at Penn led to a letter from concerned swim parents,
questioning the integrity of women's sports and the fair treatment of
female athletes. "At stake here is the integrity of women's sports," wrote
the parents in their letter to Penn and the Ivy League. They expressed
concern about the precedent being set by allowing transgender women to
compete in women's sports, suggesting it jeopardizes the protected and
equitable space for female athletes.

Despite the parents' plea, the NCAA remained unresponsive. However, Penn's
athletic director, Shanahan, sent a message to the team saying the school
fully supports all of its swimming student-athletes and wants to "help our
community navigate Lia's success in the pool this winter." She directed
those feeling upset about the situation to "utilize robust resources
available to them," including the university's Department of Counseling
and Psychological Services, per Sports Illustrated.

'This is representative of a greater issue'
Scanlan, however, firmly believes that the issue extends beyond just her
former team's discomfort. She wrote an opinion article discussing
scientific differences between biological males and females, only to have
it taken down shortly after publication. "This is representative of a
greater issue - the destruction of free speech," said Scanlan. "Today, any
discussion maintaining the sanctity of women's spaces is labeled
transphobic, bigoted, and hateful. What's bigoted and hateful is
discrimination against women and the efforts to erase women and our equal
opportunities, dignity, and safe spaces."

Scanlan's testimony was part of a committee meeting titled 'The Dangers
and Due Process Violations of Gender-Affirming Care,' organized by
Republicans who control the House committee. She was joined by Chloe Cole,
a 19-year-old detransitioner, who is suing the doctors in California
responsible for administering hormones and surgically removing her

As the debate surrounding Lia Thomas' participation in women's swimming
competitions continues to polarize opinions, it remains a highly sensitive
issue at the heart of the broader national discourse about the inclusion
of transgender athletes in women's sports.
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