Report: Male Swimmer Competing as Female Considers Himself 'The Jackie Robinson of Trans Sports'


When Jackie Robinson became the first black player in Major League Baseball in 1947, he played through taunts, slurs, death threats and worse. He did it without boasting or self-promotion — for how could he? There were few in his corner, and armies of bigots arrayed against him.

In 2021, a male swimmer going by the name of Lia Thomas dominated intercollegiate women’s swim meets — and, for the most part, been given laudatory coverage for it.

Conservative media outlets have been the only ones to offer substantive criticism of men competing against women in athletic — and when they do, Big Tech tries to silence them or starve them of advertising revenue. (The Western Journal isn’t going to be silenced by this. You can help us keep up the fight against Big Tech by subscribing.)

Thomas’ teammates at the University of Pennsylvania who have been critical of his arrogance about dominating women’s swimming — something that’s been well-documented in prior reports — have come out anonymously due to the fact they’d instantly be labeled transphobes. Parents who sent a letter to the NCAA with concerns about letting Thomas compete against women have also stayed anonymous for the same reason.

University of Pennsylvania administrators have remained uncritically supportive of Thomas as he racks up win after win. They’ve let him say whatever he wants, a privilege that Robinson — the man who broke baseball’s color line — never had.

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Yet, according to an anonymous report from a UPenn teammate published by the Washington Examiner on Thursday, Thomas sees himself in a light similar to one of the heroes of the American civil rights movement.

The opinion piece, the second part of an interview with the unnamed woman swimmer at Penn by the Washington Examiner’s Christopher Tremoglie, contained the explosive quotation:

“She compares herself to Jackie Robinson,” the swimmer said, according to Tremoglie. “She said she is like the Jackie Robinson of trans sports.”

Thomas swam for three years as Will Thomas on the men’s swim team at UPenn before he took a year off for gender transitioning procedures, returning on the women’s team this year. While Thomas had some success on the men’s circuit, his dominance during women’s Ivy League swim meets began drawing serious media attention when he broke team records and set top times nationally.

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At a Nov. 20 meet between UPenn, Cornell University and Princeton University, Thomas set school records for the fastest 200- and 500-meter free individual events, according to The swimmer swept the 100-, 200- and 500-meter free individual events and was part of the winning team in the 400-meter free relay. In addition, Thomas set the second-fastest time in the country for women this year during a win in the 200-meter free individual, with a 1:43.47.

“She laughs about it and mocks the situation,” the anonymous UPenn swimmer told the Tremoglie.

“Instead of caring or showing that she cares about what she’s doing or what she’s doing to her teammates, she’s not sympathetic or empathetic at all. Lia never addressed our team. She never asked if it was OK. She never asked how we felt. She never tried to explain how she feels. She never has said anything to us as a group. She never addressed anything.”

“The crux of the swimmers’ complaints is the biological advantage that Lia has over female teammates,” Tremoglie wrote. “The swimmers were promised competition between females, not men who want to be female. Yet, there’s also the matter of an apparently inflated ego.”

The Robinson comparison isn’t the only instance of inflated ego that Thomas seems to suffer from, the swimmer told Tremoglie.

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“All she does is make comments to people like, ‘At least I’m still No. 1 in the country,’ and those kinds of cocky things,” the swimmer said.

“She doesn’t care how all this is affecting us and how this is affecting our relationship to swimming. She doesn’t care, and it makes it really hard to like her.”

The anonymous swimmer also told Tremoglie that Thomas doesn’t bother to follow rules. In one instance, Thomas reportedly wore UPenn gear during a training trip to Florida after the team had been instructed not to. In another, Thomas attended dinners for both the male and female swim teams even though individuals are only supposed to attend one of the alumni-funded events.

However, the larger issue seems to be, as the swimmer put it, that Thomas’ teammates are “supposed to respect how she feels, but she doesn’t respect her teammates at all.”

And don’t expect the school to respect how they feel, either. While the swimmer reported there had been confrontations with Thomas, University of Pennsylvania officials had allegedly told swim team members not to say anything about the situation, publicly or privately, that would “jeopardize their future.”

“We were told, ‘You guys can say whatever you want, but we don’t want you to ruin your future. So, we will help you, whatever you want to say,’” she said.

Yes, sure, this is an anonymous report — but it’s not the first one and you get the distinct feeling that Jackie Robinson this ain’t. Instead, Lia Thomas may end up being the Barry Bonds of trans sports.

Those of you young’uns out there who don’t remember baseball at the turn of the century may not remember (or simply don’t care) that there was actually a time players weren’t tested for steroids. Not only that, there were open debates about who was using and how much of a difference it made, anyway.

Without getting into the statistical weeds of it all, Bonds had long been the best all-around player in baseball statistically, but had lost a bit of his star power in the late-1990s because home-run hitters like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — were getting all the ESPN coverage.

(McGwire has since admitted using steroids. Sosa denies it, but is strongly suspected.)

According to the exposé “Game of Shadows,” Bonds, ever the competitive sort, used this as an impetus to turn himself into a lab experiment in which a human being was subjected to as many bovine steroids as he could swallow and inject.

By 2001, Bonds had shattered the Major League Baseball’s single-season home run record, crushing 73 balls out of the park despite the fact pitchers avoided the strike zone when he was at the plate the way Joe Biden avoids long discussions about his son’s burgeoning art career. If you needed an object lesson into whether steroids made a big difference, Barry Bonds was your guy.

Lia Thomas isn’t technically cheating, mind you, under the NCAA’s ludicrous rules governing transgender sports participation. However, the fact that a male swimmer of middling success competing against men has become a dominant force on the women’s team answers the question with some clarity: Yes, males have a biological advantage in women’s sports, irrespective of “transitioning.”

And having read biographies of both Barry Bonds and Jackie Robinson, I can also say this much: If this anonymous swimmer’s report is accurate, Thomas’ personality is quite a bit closer to Bonds’ infamously grating swagger than it is to Robinson’s quiet, determined righteousness.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture