Former University of Kentucky collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines was confronted by protesters at San Fransisco State University on Thursday after giving a speech opposing the participation of transgender women in female sports.
The event was hosted by Turning Point USA and Leadership Institute.
Footage of the incident has since gone viral. It shows activists harassing and insulting Gaines, eventually chasing her down hallways. They also chanted “trans rights are human rights!” during the attack.
Gaines reportedly barricaded herself in a room for her own safety. She remained there for several hours while students and protesters outside discussed how they would ask for money in exchange for the swimmer’s safety.
— @amuse (@amuse) April 7, 2023
Gaines shared a video of the incident in a tweet, followed by a statement:
“The prisoners are running the asylum at SFSU…I was ambushed and physically hit twice by a man. This is proof that women need sex-protected spaces. Still only further assures me I’m doing something right. When they want you silent, speak louder.”
The prisoners are running the asylum at SFSU…I was ambushed and physically hit twice by a man. This is proof that women need sex-protected spaces.
Still only further assures me I'm doing something right. When they want you silent, speak louder. 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/uJW3x9RERf
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) April 7, 2023
San Fransisco police eventually arrived to escort Gaines away. However, she did not leave until after midnight, though the event began at around 7 p.m. PT.
Gaines has been attacked previously for standing up for herself and other female athletes.
She has made comments in the past about trans-identified male swimmer, Lia Thomas. Thomas has been the subject of heated debate for participating in female swimming events at the collegiate level. Thomas is described as the first “openly transgender” athlete to win an NCAA division national championship, after winning the women’s 500-yard freestyle event.
“I remember watching it, and [Lia] destroyed everyone,” Gaines said. “I was standing right next to the girl who placed 17th, which means she didn’t make it to the final or get to be All-American when Lia touched the wall. She just looked at me and had tears in her eyes and she told me, ‘I just got beat by someone who probably didn’t have to try this morning.’”
In March 2022, Gaines, a 12x All-American swimmer, tied for fifth place with Thomas in the NCAA’s 200-meter freestyle swimming championship.
Thomas spent three years at the University of Pennsylvania on the men’s swim team before returning to compete against females, breaking records in the process. Gaines attempted to raise concerns about competing against a biological male, but says her complaints were ignored by the administration.
Gaines told Tucker Carlson in an April 2022 interview that she felt “the NCAA handled everything extremely poorly” starting from when the teammates took their spots to receive their respective trophies.
Though Gaines had tied with Thomas, the NCAA told her she would have to take photos holding the 6th place trophy and would receive her 5th place trophy later in the mail.
On Thursday, Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden Administration’s press secretary, made a statement in response to a question from the White House press corps. She stated that “LGBTQ+ kids are resilient. They are fierce, they fight back, they aren’t going anywhere, and we have their back. This administration has their back. We are so proud.”
Yesterday, KJP said, "They fight back… We are so proud."
— GOP (@GOP) April 7, 2023
Later that same night, the situation with Riley Gaines and the supporters of trans inclusion unfolded.
The next day, Gaines shared her experience on Twitter and expressed her concerns about women’s spaces not being protected.
Gaines announced that she would be appearing on Tucker Carlson‘s show that Friday, expressing her appreciation for the support she received and her hope that people would become aware of the challenges that women face when they speak out.