A University of Pennsylvania student athlete shared her story publicly after months of remaining anonymous about being on the same team as the infamous transgender swimmer “Lia” Thomas.
Paula Scanlan, who was listed as a senior on Penn Athletics’ Women’s Swimming and Diving Roster, swam with the aforementioned Thomas, as well as fellow swimmer-turned activist Riley Gaines, according to the Daily Wire.
Thomas is a male athlete who joined the women’s swim team in 2021 after he began hormone replacement therapy in May 2019. Thomas went on to win the women’s NCAA Division I national championship in the 500-yard freestyle, completely dominating his competition in state and regional competitions leading up to winning the women’s title.
Scanlan had previously spoken anonymously about the ordeal, appearing as an unnamed teammate in the Daily Wire’s “What Is a Woman?” documentary but has since chosen to speak out publicly about Thomas joining the women’s team.
“One of the girls [was] very upset. She went crying to the athletic department, I don’t know what they said to her but she then was completely on board and thought Lia swimming was this magical, beautiful thing,” Scanlan told Matt Walsh in an interview. “Is there something wrong with me for thinking this was wrong? It worked. The university wanted us to be quiet, and they did it in a very effective way,” she described.
“There was something going on in that athletic department that wanted to keep us quiet, and I was like, this is getting scary,” she added.
“The universities need to be held accountable. They have made these radical views endemic in America,” Scanlan said in a Twitter response to Walsh, who claimed the University of Pennsylvania manipulated its athletes.
The most disturbing thing that @PaulaYScanlan revealed is the psychological manipulation from the school that made the real girls on the team question their own common sense and judgment. They knew it was wrong to have a man on the team but the gaslighting campaign was extremely…
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 6, 2023
In a post to her own page, Scanlan also urged Americans to stand up and “do the right thing,” adding, “Now more than ever it is important as Americans we stand up for the truth. The whole world depends on us to do so.”
As a Taiwanese citizen as well as a US citizen. I’m able to see first hand the impact the decisions we make in America have on the world. Americans we need to step up and do the right thing.
— Paula Scanlan (@PaulaYScanlan) June 6, 2023
Scanlan detailed that Will “Lia” Thomas himself was the one who explained to female athletes at the university that he would be competing against them in women’s swimming. “We were told that next season Will Thomas would be joining the women’s team,” Scanlan said. “I felt shocked, I felt a little uncomfortable, but everyone around me looked really happy and excited for this member of the men’s team to be living their true self.”
When Thomas joined the team during the pre-season, Scanlan said it happened “really quick,” taking about 10 minutes from Thomas addressing the team, directly to the coach announcing “okay, everybody get in the pool.”
As well, Thomas allegedly became much “more talkative” and “more vocal” when joining the women’s team, according to Scanlan, who said she never thought Thomas would be the kind of person to be involved in such a “public scandal.”
“I’m not sure how much of it was change of personality … or how much of it was because there was so much media attention,” she explained.
A teammate of Lia Thomas appeared in What Is A Woman anonymously. A few days ago she came to us and said she is ready to come out publicly and tell her story. I had a longer conversation with Paula where she revealed a number of details that weren't covered in the film. Watch: pic.twitter.com/wlknGmslJC
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 5, 2023