Former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines on Wednesday talked about the “extreme discomfort” she felt when she was forced to share a locker room with transgender competitor Lia Thomas.
In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Gaines, who swam for the University of Kentucky, said she wasn’t on board at all with having to share the space with someone who had “different parts” while she was changing.
She went on to level an accusation at event organizers for failing to tell her and other female competitors they would be forced to share a locker room with Thomas, who was born biologically male.
“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 said during the interview.
“It is now sexual assault to refer to someone as their wrong pronouns, but it’s not sexual assault to have someone with opposite body parts in a female locker room,” she added.
NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines tells Tucker Carlson what it was like competing against Lia Thomas. pic.twitter.com/BToxzSqQAG
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) July 27, 2022
Gaines graduated from college earlier this year. Since then, she has become a vocal critic of allowing biological males to take part in all-female competitions because, she says, being born a male gives trans athletes an unfair advantage over biological women.
“So not only were we forced to race against a male, we were forced to change in the locker room with one,” she stated. “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.”
She went on to accuse the National Collegiate Athletic Association — the NCAA — of failing to protect the integrity of women’s sports.
Gaines really stepped up her criticism after tying with Thomas in March for fifth place in the 200-meter freestyle NCAA championships.
A woman defending women's sports- why now? Former @NCAA swimmer @RileyGaines isn't letting biological male #LiaThomas crash the female pool without speaking out. The interview streams exclusively on @foxnation – plus: unlock free sign-up offers only at https://t.co/voL1Yti7Mo pic.twitter.com/zZ6uqfGdYj
— Tucker Carlson Today (@TuckerToday) July 27, 2022
The former collegiate swimmer ripped coaches at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas’ alma mater, for nominating the swimmer for the NCAA’S “Woman of the Year” award, though it was shot down by the Ivy League school.
“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,” she tweeted. “First a female national title and now nominated for the pinnacle award in collegiate athletics. The @NCAA has made this award worthless.”
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
In an interview with Carlson in April, Gaines went public against Thomas, saying that being forced to compete against a biologically male transgender swimmer was unfair, adding that a majority of female athletes were on the same page.
“We’re dealing with something that’s completely out of our control when we’re racing, biological males,” she said at the time. “Whether they have different lung capacities, their height, testosterone levels whether they’ve used testosterone blockers are 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,” Gaines noted.
The world’s swimming governing body, FINA, has since adopted a new “gender inclusion policy” that only allows biologically male swimmers at birth who transitioned prior to the age of 12 to compete in women’s events, while also proposing an “open competition category.”
“This is not saying that people are encouraged to transition by the age of 12. It’s what the scientists are saying, that if you transition after the start of puberty, you have an advantage, which is unfair,” James Pearce, the spokesperson for FINA president Husain Al-Musallam, told The Associated Press.
“They’re not saying everyone should transition by age 11, that’s ridiculous. You can’t transition by that age in most countries and hopefully you wouldn’t be encouraged to. Basically, what they’re saying is that it is not feasible for people who have transitioned to compete without having an advantage,” Pearce added.