CV NEWS FEED // Twelve-time All-American collegiate swimmer and women’s sports activist Riley Gaines called out Democrats’ deceptive rhetoric during a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
The University of Kentucky women’s swim team star notably competed against former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a male who calls himself female, during the 2022 NCAA Finals. There, Gaines and Thomas tied for fifth place in the 200-meter freestyle event, but only Thomas was allowed to take the trophy home.
During her testimony, Gaines dismissed allegations that her activism for women’s rights was “politicizing” sports. “This is not politics for me. This is a real-life issue,” she said.
Gaines addressed the LGBTQ talking point that she and other women’s sports advocates are trying to ban “trans’”athletes from sports.
“That’s the rhetoric that’s being pushed by the opposition,” she said. “I don’t believe trans athletes should be banned from playing sports – of course not. I just want everyone to compete where it’s fair and where it’s safe. I don’t understand why that’s overly controversial.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, was sympathetic to Gaines’ and other female swimmers’ experiences of having to share a locker room with the male Thomas. He asked her to describe the feeling of finding Thomas there without any prior warning.
Gaines said she and her teammates and other competitors “Only became aware we’d be undressing next to a man when we had to see a man undressing while we were simultaneously undressing.” She quickly left the locker room to ask about guidelines allowing males into the female locker room, and learned from an official that all locker rooms were now unisex.
And so, I’m thinking to myself in these brief moments, “First and foremost, you just admitted this is a male by acknowledging how you had to change your rules to make the locker rooms unisex. You acknowledge that we do not share the same sex.”
Gaines also stated that making the locker rooms unisex opened up the possibility that “any man could have walked into” the women’s locker room:
Any coach, any official, any man who wanted to would have [been able] to, and bare minimum, we weren’t forewarned about it.
That’s the traumatizing part. Of course, the experience in it of the locker room itself was traumatizing. But I think for me, it was so easy for them to dismiss our right to privacy.
She also pushed back against Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-IL, a self-professed Catholic, when he asked “what message” protecting women’s sports “would send to ‘trans’ people.”
Gaines countered: “What message does this send to women, to young girls who are denied of these opportunities so easily their rights to privacy and safety [are] thrown out of the window, to protect a small population … as long as they’re happy?”
“What about us?” she added. “That is the overall general consensus of how we all felt in that locker room.”
Also during the hearing, Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, asked Democratic witness Kelley Robinson, “You don’t believe a biological male has a physical advantage in sports over a biological female?”
Robinson is the current president of the far-left LGBTQ activist group Human Rights Campaign and the former executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She said, “There’s been this news article about men that think they can beat Serena Williams in tennis… And it’s just not the case. She is stronger than them.”
When Kennedy called on Gaines for a response, she pointed out: “Both Serena and Venus lost to the 203rd ranked male tennis player.”
Finally, Hawley told Gaines that Lia Thomas said she was “using the guise of feminism to push ‘transphobic’ beliefs.”
Gaines simply replied: “This is a man mansplaining what it is to be a feminist.”
In an April LOOPcast interview with CatholicVote’s Tom Pogasic, Gaines described what it was like to lose the trophy to Lia Thomas – despite the fact that she had succeeded in a tie with him. Officials let him have the trophy “for photos,” she said. [Everything] we worked our entire lives [for] was reduced down to a photo-op to validate the feelings of a male.”
Prior to identifying as “trans” and being allowed to compete against women, Thomas was ranked 554th among male swimmers in the 200-meter freestyle.