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Ex-NCAA swimmer Gaines warns biological males will 'take advantage' of chance to win against females

Gaines was an All-American at the University of Kentucky who competed against transgender Penn swimmer Lia Thomas.

Published: March 3, 2023 3:03pm

Updated: March 4, 2023 10:26am

Riley Gaines, the former NCAA swimmer who has become an advocate for fairness to women in sports, on Friday warned those attending the annual CPAC gathering that allowing biological males to compete in women's sports is creating opportunities for some transgender athletes to exploit the situation.

"It opens the door to people who would fully be willing to take advantage of that opportunity," said Gaines, now a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum group.

While many Americans are familiar with the University of Pennsylvania women's team swimmer Lia Thomas, who was a member of the school's men's team for three year, then after starting hormone therapy joined the women's team from 2021 to 2022, Gaines competed against Thomas.

Gaines told Just the News on Friday that Thomas of whom she'd never heard "out of nowhere ... was seeing the fastest times in the nation across multiple events."

Thomas in March of last year won the NCAA Division I title in the women's 500-yard freestyle event.

Gaines also made clear that she isn't arguing against people making life changes that they feel are right for them, only that sports "doesn't rely on your identity, it doesn't care about your feelings."

"This is something that strictly relies on sex and your biology and your physiology," said Gaines, who was an All-American and tied Thomas for fifth place in the 200-meter event last year in the NCAA Division I championships. 

She also said the physical differences between biological men and women can be dangerous, recounting a high school volleyball game in which a biological male jumped and spiked the ball that hit a girl in the face, causing vision problems and a concussion.

“Im fortunate that I didn’t have to worry about my physical safety in terms of the sport but we did have to be concerned about our safety in the locker room," she said. "Any situation where you're allowing biological men who are still fully intact with male genitalia to fully expose themselves in a room where women are also fully exposed, that's a problem.”

Looking forward, Gaines believes every person should be able to play sports. She proposes that all 50 states should pass a fairness in women's sports bill that would protect female athletes. 

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