In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, a tearful Riley Gaines spoke passionately about competing against Lia Thomas, a biologically male swimmer who identified as female and competed in women’s swimming on the University of Pennsylvania team. Gaines, who won numerous races during her time swimming on the University of Kentucky’s women’s team, shared her experience during a hearing titled “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.”
Watch the video below to hear some of her remarks – or read the lightly edited transcript below.
In addition to being forced to give up our awards and our titles and our opportunities, the NCAA forced me and my female swimmers to swim, to share a locker room with Thomas, a 6’2″, 22-year-old male, equipped with and exposing male genitalia.
Let me be clear about this: We were not forewarned we would be sharing a locker room. No one asked for our consent and we did not give our consent. And I’ll set the scene—a swimming locker room is not a place of modesty.
You’re undressing, you’re fully exposed, and we were forced to take off our swimsuit in front of a man, who was doing the exact same thing.
If nothing else, I truly hope you-all, you can see this is a violation of our right to privacy and how some of us have felt uncomfortable, embarrassed, and even traumatized by this experience.
I know that I don’t speak for every single person who competed against Lia Thomas, but I know I speak for many.
Because I saw the tears, I saw the tears from the ninth and 17th place finishers, who missed out on being named an All-American by one place. And I can attest to the extreme discomfort in the locker room, from these 18- to 22-year-old girls, when you turn around and there’s male eyes watching in that same room.
And I can attest to the whispers and the grumbles of anger and frustration from these girls, who, just like myself, had worked our entire lives to get to this meet.
And I can attest to the fact that around the country, these female athletes who opposed the inclusion of Lia Thomas in the women’s divisions were threatened, intimidated, and emotionally blackmailed into silence and submission.