‘I’m Not Afraid!’ Riley Gaines Stands Her Ground in Fight to Keep Female

If you’ve been watching the news lately – no doubt you’re familiar with Riley Gaines, the female college swimmer who was forced to compete against a biological male, share a locker room, and even though they tied, give up her trophy.

Since then, Gaines has been viciously attacked for standing up for women’s rights in sports, but as CBN News learned, her faith in God is giving her a boldness she didn’t know she had.

These days, it seems Gaines is making a bigger splash outside the pool, from countless interviews to standing before Congress, Gaines has become the face of saving women’s sports.

At the recent CPAC Conference in Dallas, Gaines told a cheering crowd, “It takes a brain and common sense and fifth-grade biology level of understanding to realize that this is blatantly unfair, it’s completely obvious,” referring to the physical differences between men and women.

The 23-year-old, who swam for the University of Kentucky, made a name for herself as one of the fastest female college swimmers in America. But last year, she was forced to compete against Lia Thomas – a 6-foot 4 male swimmer, formerly known as Will Thomas, for the NCAA National Championships. Despite Thomas’ obvious physical advantage, Gaines tied the trans swimmer for 5th place in the 200 freestyle finals. But then, the unthinkable happened. Despite the tie, down to the 100th of a second, officials gave the trophy to Thomas.


“I’m a 12th time all American, so it’s not the trophy. But why? Why are you giving this trophy to Lia? What’s your thought process? And he (the official) was not prepared to answer this because they hadn’t been questioned on anything they’d done thus far,” Gaines remembered. “And so, he says, well, Lia has to have the trophy for pictures. You can pose with this one, but you’ll give it back. You go home empty handed. Lia takes the trophy home, and that’s what thrust me over the edge,” she recalled.

“They reduced everything that I had worked my entire life, for, which was not unique to just myself, all of us girls who were at that meet, what we’d worked our entire life for, they reduced that down to a photo op to validate the feelings of a male at the expense of our own,” Gaines told us.

Another surprise: Gaines and other female swimmers discovered Thomas, a fully intact male, was sharing their locker room. At that moment, she knew – nobody was coming to rescue them.

“I was waiting for a coach, a parent, another swimmer, someone with political power, someone within the inside, someone to stick up for us. But then the realization hit me that if we as female athletes weren’t willing to stick up for ourselves, how could we expect someone else to stick up for us?” she said.


When asked why the NCAA would allow this to happen to female swimmers, Gaines said, “Truthfully, it’s a classic case of fear mongering. I mean, the NCAA, they were terrified to make a decision. They know better than anyone, especially being an organization that covers sports, they know better than anyone the differences between man and woman when it comes to athleticism or sheer strength,” Gaines said.

Current NCAA Transgender Policy defers to individual sports and their governing boards and female swimmers seem to have no voice. On a recent podcast, Lia Thomas spoke out against them saying, “They’re using the guise of feminism to sort of push transphobic beliefs.”


“If it makes someone transphobic to acknowledge that there are two sexes, to acknowledge no matter what, you cannot change your sex, to acknowledge that women deserve equal opportunities and we deserve safety and fairness and privacy and locker rooms and areas of undressing, if that’s what makes someone transphobic, then my kind of petty response is, ok, well, you’re a misogynist. If you’re going to sit here and call me transphobic, then you have an utter disregard for women and our own physical uniqueness,” Gaines said.

When asked if she’s been able to forgive Thomas, Gaines told us, “Absolutely. There’s, there’s no animosity in my heart. There really isn’t. And that’s why I’m so confident in my stance because I know my convictions. I know my heart. This argument that I’m portraying across the country, it’s not rooted in hate. So, when people want to call me names like Thomas has and like others have, Democrats, representatives and politicians, they’ll throw at you. Yeah, I’m so secure with myself and that’s because of my faith,” she said.


In April, Riley’s faith was tested while speaking at San Francisco State University when a mob of transgender activists physically and verbally assaulted her.

“The first thing I thought was, these people look so hateful and sad, I immediately just wanted to pray for them. I just felt sorry for them more than anything,” she recalled. “Yeah, there were hundreds of people who were yelling things such as I mean, awful things that they wanted to do to me.”


Gaines, who was hit in the face, said she feared for her life. “Absolutely. I did in that moment. And then the three hours prior to where I was stuck there, (barricaded in a room) listening to these people, listening to them yell, I hear the term ‘we fight back’ and I’m like, where have I just heard this? And the press secretary of the Biden Administration, the day before, she comes out at a press conference and says, ‘Our Trans Community, they’re resilient and they fight back.’ And so, I’m sitting there listening to this, and this is coming from the top. This is what’s being encouraged,” she said.

The next day, university officials denied the attack on Riley and called it peaceful. Gaines is now suing the university for not providing adequate protection.


When asked if she was afraid, Riley said, “I’m not afraid of being called names, I’m not afraid of being attacked, but what I’m afraid of is not standing for the truth, not fighting for this next generation. That’s what I’m scared of because I see what’s at stake.”

For now, Gaines, who married her college sweetheart and fellow swimmer last year, says she’s putting her dreams of going to dental school on hold as she commits her time and energy to saving women’s sports. So far, she’s testified before Congress and several states including Texas and Virginia.

She says when the fight gets tough, she likes to refer to her favorite Bible verse – Romans 8:18: “For our present sufferings aren’t worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us,” she recited. “And I always thought that was so applicable to swimming because it’s truly suffering. I mean, those practices you do, but I constantly remind myself it will be worth it. Our Bible tells us it will be.”

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