Michael Phelps' transgender ex-girlfriend, Taylor Lianne Chandler, believes the Olympian's "hypocritical" stance on trans athletes participating in organized sports has had a domino effect.
On Thursday, 16 members of the University of Pennsylvania women's swimming team sent a letter to school and Ivy League officials, demanding that 22-year-old Lia Thomas – a trans student who competes on the women's swim team – be banned from participating in next month's NCAA championships.
It's a call said officials could potentially make given that the association updated its policy just last month to allow each sport to determine the eligibility of trans athletes.
"We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman," penned the students, all of whom chose to remain anonymous. "Lia has every right to live her life authentically."
"However," the letter went on, "we also recognize that when it comes to sports competition, that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone's gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women's category, as evidenced by her rankings that have bounced from #462 as a male to #1 as a female."
The unnamed athletes argued, "If she were to be eligible to compete against us, she could now break Penn, Ivy, and NCAA Women's Swimming records; feats she could never have done as a male athlete."
In an exclusive statement to Radar, Chandler challenged both the contents and the authors of said request.
"The 'teammates' of Lia Thomas come out with a scathing letter stating they don't want to compete against her, but they are not confident enough in their convictions to state their names," she noted. "I'd be more apt to believe this is their parents behind this, an older generation that was taught to hate anyone outside gender norms."
"Everyone is so quick to state advantages because someone was born a biological male," Chandler went on. "Biological sex is far from that simple and far more complex. How many people truly know their biological sex beyond what was assigned at birth by a doctor based on genitals?"
She explained, "Biology of sex is multifaceted and includes genetic sex, hormonal sex and chromosomal sex. What does that all mean? It means you may be genetically male or female; chromosomally male or female; and hormonally male, female or non-binary, with cells that may or may not hear the male/female/non-binary call."
"All of this can lead to a body that can be male, female or non-binary," she said. "Notice how confusing it gets. Can you point to what the absolute cause of biological sex is? Is it fair to judge people by it? No!"
Last month, her ex-boyfriend – the best-known swimmer and most decorated olympian of all time – said on a national platform that "sports should all be played on an even playing field."
Chandler – who was born intersex, meaning she had male genitalia but no testicles and a uterus but no ovaries – was quick to call out Phelps' own genetic superiority, citing "his 6'7" wingspan, double-jointed ankles and huge feet," among other factors.
"Governing bodies should not succumb to outside pressure by people that are not trans and don't have a horse in the race," she tells us. "What makes Michael Phelps an authority to even speak to trans women competing in swimming?"
Chandler is worried about Thomas' future in the sport as well as the implications it would have to prevent her from competing.
"In the end, this would lead to further separating trans youth from wanting to participate in sports as well as new forms of hate, prejudice and bias, all of which would lead to higher suicide rates," she stressed. "I implore you, what if this was your child growing up? Women's rights should include all women, not a select few."
Chandler feels there "need to be standards for trans women in sports" but that they should be determined on a "case-by-case and sport-by-sport" basis.
"My hope is that sounder minds will prevail."
Her forthcoming book, Beyond The Gold, will be available in September.