AP Photo/John Bazemore

Formerly Anonymous Lia Thomas Teammate Speaks Out, Shares Disturbing New Details

A formerly anonymous teammate of Lia Thomas has gone public and is sharing disturbing new details about the abuse the actual women on the team faced.

Thomas, a man who says he’s a woman, was given a spot on the University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming team, a role he rode to national prominence, leaving a trail of women harmed in his wake. The school’s leadership positioned themselves behind Thomas the entire way, forcing him and his male genitalia into the women’s locker room and even nominating him for NCAA “Woman of the Year.”

The propaganda campaign was organized and vicious. That’s the story Paula Scanlan, who was on the team with Thomas, is telling after revealing her identity. She had previously appeared in The Daily Wire’s What Is a Woman documentary anonymously.

In the interview with Walsh, Scanlan shared the shocking treatment she and her other teammates endured at the hands of the universities leadership. The women were put in such an uncomfortable position that many of them were forced to change in adjacent stalls due to Thomas’ presence in the locker room. The women were not allowed to ask questions or object to their treatment, and Thomas, a biological male, would reportedly flaunt his genitalia with no care for the feelings of his teammates.

But while those details of the situation were already known, Scanlan is now saying that she and others were also threatened with retribution by the school’s athletic department if they dared to speak out.

SCANLAN: She came back from the meeting and suddenly thought we were a part of some groundbreaking team. There was something going on at the Athletic Department that wanted to keep us quiet. I was like, ‘this is getting scary’. Two days later they had a formal meeting with us, with Lia excluded, and we were told you would regret talking to the media. They also told us Lia swimming with us is non-negotiable and provided us with counselling services to ‘help us be okay’ with it. It’s incredibly startling.

Those threats were effective for a time, with Thomas’ teammates all putting on happy faces and choosing not to comment throughout his time on the team. The emergence of Riley Gaines, a swimmer who competed against Thomas, seemed to be a breaking point for Scanlan, who felt she couldn’t stay in the shadows any longer.

What was done to the actual women on the team was grotesque. University leaders in who these women had placed their trust betrayed them to affirm the delusions of a man for selfish political reasons (and likely because some saw it as an easy way to win). They didn’t just betray them on a surface level either. They forced these women to coddle and protect their own abuser while being threatened if they spoke out.

That demands accountability. I’m not sure if any legal recourse is viable, but I’d certainly be exploring it as an option. Further, UPenn needs to be completely exposed to the public for what it did. Abusing women is not something to be taken lightly or brushed under the rug.

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