Former college swimmer Riley Gaines hit back against Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin who emphasized his concern for the rights of transgender people rather than female athletes.
Gaines, an outspoken advocate for protecting women’s sports, detailed her and her fellow female athletes’ trauma after transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a male, was granted the right to change in the women’s locker room. Durbin accused rules barring males competing in women’s sports or entering women’s locker rooms as being an attack on transgender people in his opening statement at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary hearing.
“The experience in and of the locker room itself is traumatizing, but I think for me, it was so easy for them to dismiss our rights to privacy. Senator Durbin, in your opening statement, you had mentioned this rhetoric, it’s — you had mentioned that, ‘what message does it send to trans individuals?’ And my combat to that is what message does this send to women, to young girls who are denied of these opportunities? So easily, their rights to privacy and safety thrown out of the window to protect a small population, protect one group as long as they’re happy? What about us? That is the overall, general consensus of how we all felt in that locker room,” Gaines said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) permitted Thomas to compete against women in the Women’s Championships in 2022, leading to Thomas’ sweeping victory against his competitors. Gaines tied with Thomas in one of the competitions but was told she could not hold the trophy along with Thomas.
Gaines told Fox News in February that she and the other girls did not consent to Thomas entering the girl’s locker room or being exposed to male genitalia. (RELATED: ‘We Are Asking For The Bare Minimum’: Riley Gaines Blasts Biden Admin Over Title IX Rewrite)
“The NCAA, of course we competed against Thomas, but we were not forewarned beforehand that we would be sharing a locker room with Lia,” she said in February. “We did not give our consent, they did not ask us for our consent, but in that locker room, we turned around and there’s a six-foot-four [inch] biological man dropping his pants and watching us undress and we’re exposed to male genitalia. So, that to me was worse than the competition piece.”
Gaines has received a wide range of scrutiny for her activism in preserving women’s sports for solely female athletes. She accused some Democrats of attempting to censor her opinions on the transgender debate during a “Save Women’s Sports” speech at the University of Pittsburgh in March, when an angry liberal mob allegedly “ambushed and physically hit” her as she arrived for a speaking event at San Francisco State University.
She recently criticized White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who suggested that parents expressing concern about their daughter’s safety in sports is “dangerous” to transgender kids at a June 13 press briefing. The press secretary accused EWTN reporter Owen Jensen of posing a “dangerous” question by asking for the White House’s response to concerned parents.
“When they say ‘inclusion’, just know they really mean exclusion,'” Gaines wrote in a June 13 tweet. “The message this sends to ALL women is that our safety doesn’t matter. Nor does our privacy, our fairness, our equal opportunities, or our dignity. The misogyny is slapping us across the face.”
There have been multiple reports of female athletes getting injured after competing against biological males. A North Carolina high school volleyball player said she suffered from a long-term concussion and neck injury in April after a male athlete spiked the ball and hit her in the face, according to Fox News. Three players on a high school rugby team were also injured after being slammed by a male competitor in April 2022, the Washington Examiner reported.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, a teenage boy wearing a dress was found guilty of raping a female student in the girl’s bathroom in May 2021, after being permitted to use the space.