Chris Lange, FISM News
Former college swimming star Riley Gaines is calling on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to create separate locker rooms for transgender athletes, saying that she and her teammates were exposed to “male genitalia” and forced to change clothes in front of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male who identifies as a woman and says he is still attracted to women.
Gaines, 23, a 12-time All-American and five-time SEC champ at the University of Kentucky, told Fox News’s America Reports Wednesday that she and her teammates were given no prior notice that they would be sharing a locker room with Thomas, who switched from the men’s team to the women’s team at the University of Pennsylvania in 2021. Thomas had been undergoing hormone replacement therapy at the time but had not had gender reassignment surgery.
“We were not forewarned beforehand that we would be sharing a locker room with Lia. We did not give our consent, they did not ask for our consent, but in that locker room we turned around and there’s a 6-foot-4 biological man dropping his pants and watching us undress, and we were exposed to male genitalia,” Gaines said.
“That to me was worse than the competition piece,” she continued. “Not even probably a year, two years ago, this would have been considered some form of sexual assault, voyeurism. But now not even are they just allowing it to happen, it’s almost as if these large organizations are encouraging it to happen.”
Gaines is the spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative nonprofit focused on protecting and advancing women’s rights, and has been an outspoken opponent of biological males competing in women’s sports.
Gaines was forced to compete against Thomas at a national swimming competition last spring where both tied for fifth place. The match sparked fierce debate over whether women should be forced to compete against trans athletes with biological advantages in size, muscle mass, as well as heart and lung capacity.
Gaines said the NCAA has completely failed to protect the integrity of women’s sports.
“Of course, after NCAA championships, the NCAA then nominated Thomas for NCAA Woman of the Year, so [they] are celebrating this movement. This is not something that happened by chance on a one-off basis,” she said. “They are encouraging [biological] men to compete in women’s sports.”
Gaines accused the Biden administration of promoting “gender ideology propaganda” and actively pushing for more female-identifying men to compete in women’s sports. She attended President Biden’s State of the Union address Monday as a guest of Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.)
“Honestly, you have all these people all the time tell me how courageous it is to speak to this and how brave I am, but truthfully does it make someone brave to just acknowledge women deserve equal opportunities?” she asked Fox News host John Roberts. “That’s how far we have come as a society and within our culture.”
The swimmer-turned-activist said that, after graduating from the University of Kentucky, she had planned to pursue a career in dentistry but said that she feels compelled to continue to advocate for other female athletes who are afraid to speak out and has, for the time being, put her career ambitions on hold.
Thomas competed on the men’s team for three years before joining the women’s team in 2021. The Penn University swimmer, who struggled to even compete in the men’s division, shattered records and dominated the field at the Ivy League women’s swimming championships last February. Thomas plans to compete as a female swimmer in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.