SwimmingRiley Gaines Confronted By Protesters After Speech

Riley Gaines Confronted By Protesters After Speech

Riley Gaines Confronted By Protesters After Speech Against Trans Participation in Women’s Sports

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who was an NCAA finalist in the 200 freestyle in 2021 and 2022, was confronted by protesters after giving a speech at San Francisco State University Thursday opposing the participation of transgender women in women’s sports.

Video of the incident shows supporters of trans inclusion harassing Gaines, shouting insults and cursing at her and chasing her down hallways, as campus police officers rushed her away from the scene into a secure area, where she remained for several hours. San Francisco Police eventually arrived to disperse the crowd and escort Gaines away, but she did not leave until midnight after the event began at 7 p.m. PT.

During the incident, Gaines said that she was “physically assaulted by one person.” She told CNN, “I was struck twice, both times hitting my shoulder with the second strike grazing my face. The rest of the protestors just ambushed and cornered me before I was able to move out with the help of campus police.”

Read the full report from CNN here.

Gaines tweeted a video of the situation, which does not show the assault but does include one protester shouting, “trans rights are human rights.” The video does contain profanity.

Gaines concluded her swimming career at the 2022 NCAA Championships, the meet where Penn’s Lia Thomas became the first trans woman to capture an NCAA title in the 500 free. The day after that race, Thomas tied for fifth with Gaines in the 200 free, and Gaines made headlines days later when she said it was “disheartening” how Thomas had received the fifth-place trophy with Gaines’ identical trophy to come in the mail. Since then, Gaines has become a political activist arguing for “protecting women’s sports” as a space for cisgender women only.

In the months before that NCAA meet, there had been extensive debate within the swimming community as to whether Thomas should have been competing in women’s events. The NCAA unveiled new guidelines to address issues of inequity with trans participation in hopes of avoiding another controversial situation in the future.

A new USA Swimming policy on transgender participation released in February 2022 included “specific guidelines… for both non-elite and elite athletes and elite events,” focusing on inclusion for non-elite athletes, allowing for transgender athletes “to experience the sport of swimming in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression,” while relying on “science and medical evidence-based methods to provide a level-playing field for elite cisgender women.”

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