What Motivated Paula Scanlan, the Former Teammate of Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas, to Speak Up – RedState

What Motivated Paula Scanlan, the Former Teammate of Transgender Swimmer Lia Thomas, to Speak Up – RedState

Women and girls’ sports advocate Riley Gaines is being joined by Paula Scanlan in the movement for fair competition in women’s athletics. Scanlan is a former University of Pennsylvania teammate of transgender swimmer, Lia Thomas. In 2022, NCAA officials insisted that Thomas be the recipient of a trophy, although Gaines had tied Thomas’ event time, down to the hundredth of a second.

As previously reported, Scanlan had remained an anonymous voice on the issue, before revealing her identity on Tuesday in an interview with Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh. Scanlan has come forward in part to help other women and girls who are being silenced to voice their opposition on the issue. Scanlan told Walsh:

I thought maybe if I waited a year, or however much time, that these feelings I felt… unfairness, the “this is not the truth, this is not just” would go away, and they really never did. I just spent this last year just kind of living vicariously through, “Oh, Riley is going and doing these great things, she’s gonna accomplish all these things we need to have done.” And, she’s made great strides but I’m still feeling so passionately about this that I want to join her. And I know that the more voices we have -and I’m hoping even more people will speak out- the more voices we have, the more powerful this will be. So, that’s really where I am. I’m ready now.

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines speaks at a rally on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, outside of the NCAA Convention in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Scanlan expressed how important she feels the movement for women’s sports and spaces is, saying:

This is a really big cause and one of the biggest things I can be a part of. And it’s not just about me, it’s not just about Riley, it’s about fighting for women and girls across the country and that’s really who I’m here for.

Thomas, who transitioned in 2019, became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming title at the Ivy League Penn. Scanlan revealed that school administrators convinced those who expressed concerns that they were the problem, effectively silencing dissenting voices. Her statements echo those made by Gaines, the former University of Kentucky swimming star, who has become a prominent figure against biological males competing in female sports.

Scanlan criticized her alma mater for silencing the female teammates’ concerns about Thomas, telling Walsh:

The university wanted us to be quiet and they did it in a very effective way. There was something that was going on in that athletic department that wanted to keep us quiet. And I was like, “This is getting scary.”

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Scanlan recalled a team meeting in 2019 where it was announced that Thomas, previously a member of the men’s team, would be joining the women’s team. While some teammates appeared excited, Scanlan expressed feelings of shock and discomfort.

The university insisted that Thomas swimming with the women’s team was “a non-negotiable,” and provided counseling services to “help them be okay with it.” Scanlan said that school administrators warned the swimmers about talking to the media or raising concerns, saying:

They said, “Don’t talk to the media, you will regret it.” Another thing they said is, “Lia swimming is a non-negotiable.’

In the interview, it was revealed that Scanlan and her teammates were also intimidated from talking amongst themselves about their concerns. Scanlan said:

They effectively silenced us, even within talking to each other.

She also claimed that swimmers would hide in bathroom stalls to avoid changing in front of Thomas. Scanlan told Walsh:

It was definitely uncomfortable. I did notice a few girls going -there’s a few bathroom stalls in the bathroom- I did notice some girls changing in the bathroom stalls for practice, which is never… I’ve never really seen that before.

Lia Thomas
Pennsylvania’s Lia Thomas gestures as she holds the trophy after winning the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA swimming and diving championships Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Thomas is the first known transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Scanlan also spoke about the imposed ideologies she discovered on college campuses, after previously believing that American universities were places for free speech, diverse ideas, and dissent. Scanlan said:

Their agenda is to have everyone believe what they want them to believe.

Scanlan added:

Universities want their agenda pushed into everyone’s mind and they don’t care if you have a different opinion, they don’t want you to have that.

Thomas’ former teammate isn’t aiming to just complain about the situation, she offers solutions to make competition fair again. Scanlan advocates that the men’s category become an ‘open” competition, saying:

I have a really easy solution that would work great if everyone would implement it: I think there should be women’s sports — meaning people who are born female — and there should be another category formally known as the ‘men’s team’ called, “open.”

Why don’t we let everyone compete with the men?

I’m sure maybe some men would be unhappy with that but the thing is people have been talking about making this new like non-binary or trans category, and that is just another group where men are gonna always win.

The former Penn swimmer is also focused on legal solutions to reinstate fair competition, telling Walsh:

I think we need to pass laws. I think that’s the only way. Win in courts.

On Tuesday, Scanlan appeared in court to support female track runners who filed a case in Connecticut, uploading a video to social media. She is also promoting the Icons Womens Sports summit being held in July in Denver.

Another issue raised by Scanlan is that the inclusion of biological men discourages female athletes from playing sports. She noted that she’s already seen women and girls quit their sport and said:

It’s discouraging, nobody wants to be a part of something you know you’re gonna lose. Nobody wants to be part of something that’s unfair.

Scanlan’s advocacy is motivated by the idea that women’s teams and competitions will disappear if action to preserve them isn’t taken. She said:

I just don’t think there will be truly women’s sports.

Scanlan is using her platform, having previously been anonymous, to encourage other women and girls who are experiencing unfair practices in sports competitions to speak up, saying, “I think we need to just keep telling our stories and encourage other people to also speak their own.”

Watch the full interview:

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Originally Posted on: https://redstate.com/brutalbrittany/2023/06/07/what-motivated-paula-scanlan-the-former-teammate-of-transgender-swimmer-lia-thomas-to-speak-up-n757415
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