A former college women’s swim team star is revealing more of the “extreme discomfort” that she and her fellow female swimmers felt when the University of Pennsylvania and the NCAA forced transgender athlete Lia Thomas on them this season.
University of Kentucky alumna Riley Gaines, a member of the school’s women’s swim team, appeared on Fox News with Tucker Carlson last week and revealed that female athletes were never told that Thomas, who still retains his male genitalia, would be showering and dressing in the same locker room as they.
Thomas, who competed as Will Thomas for three years on the men’s team before taking a break and returning to compete against women, shattered long-held women’s records all year at the University of Pennsylvania during the 2022 swimming season.
As for Gaines, she tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-meter freestyle NCAA championships and has been a vocal critic of the National Collegiate Athletic Association ever since.
But Gaines, who graduated this year, noted that she and other athletes during the NCAA championships were “extremely uncomfortable” being forced to disrobe with Thomas in the room. And they were never notified by either UPenn or the NCAA that Thomas would be in there with them.
“That’s not something we were forewarned about, which I don’t think is right in any means, changing in a locker room with someone who has different parts,” Gaines told Carlson. “So not only were we forced to race against a male, we were forced to change in the locker room with one… And so then we’re sitting there not even knowing who to talk to, who to complain to, because this kind of all happened behind the scenes and very discreetly.”
Thomas claims to be on testosterone blockers, but has made no other effort to “transition” to a female and retains all his male “parts,” as Gaines put it.
Gaines added that there is a “huge lack of accountability” with the NCAA concerning the Thomas situation.
“I think people forget that women’s sports were a protected group. The category was made because the playing field was not level by any means when you have them competing against men,” Gaines explained. “And so obviously it was created to ensure that fairness. And now that we are kind of completely flipping that, it devalues what it was created for.”
“Once you start infringing upon something that people have fought so hard to get and something that I know, personally, I have dedicated essentially my whole life to, I’m allowed to think that’s not okay and obviously not support that by any means,” she said.
Gaines first spoke up in April, before the NCAA championships, when she tweeted that the women that Thomas beat during the seasons were the “real” winners of the races.
“We’re dealing with something that’s completely out of our control when we’re racing, biological males,” Gaines said in April, according to the New York Post. “Whether they have different lung capacities, their height, testosterone levels whether they’ve used testosterone blockers or not — it doesn’t suppress going through puberty as a male. Especially Lia, who swam for three years as a male.”
“It’s completely unfair and it’s a matter of equity, really,” the swimmer added.
Gaines is far from the only natural-born female college swimmer to complain about UPenn’s and the NCAA’s decision to allow the taller and stronger Thomas to compete against them as a woman.
Thomas’ own female teammates bitterly complained about Thomas to school officials. Not only did they send an official letter, but they even went around the school and contacted the media about how unfair it was to allow Thomas to compete as a woman.
For example, as Thomas was breaking one record after another during the season, the women on the team said they felt “so discouraged because no matter how much work they put in it, they’re going to lose. Usually, they can get behind the blocks and know they out-trained all their competitors and they’re going to win and give it all they’ve got.”
Both the school and the NCAA, though, fully backed Thomas and ignored the women’s complaints. Indeed, the University of Pennsylvania even absurdly placed Thomas’ name in the hat to become the NCAA’s “Woman of the Year” once the school year was complete.
Gaines blasted that move, too:
Being the real girl in that photo and also University of Kentucky's nominee for NCAA WOTY, this is yet another slap in the face to women. First a female national title and now nominated for the pinnacle award in collegiate athletics. The @NCAA has made this award worthless. https://t.co/MRCieqbltd
— Riley Gaines (@RileyGaines) July 16, 2022
Fortunately, common sense prevailed and the NCAA chose an actual woman for the honor, instead of Thomas.
These women are 100 percent correct, though. Allowing Thomas to compete as a woman made a mockery of women’s sports and his participation absolutely aced some women out of the sport entirely, taking away their opportunity to play for their schools and knocking them out of tournaments in which they would otherwise have placed.
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