Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines hit back at former competitor Lia Thomas for comments criticizing those who oppose transgender athletes in women’s sports during a podcast appearance.
Thomas joined fellow trans swimmer Schuyler Bailar’s podcast “Dear Schuyler” Monday and unleashed her criticism of former teammates and ‘anti-feminist’ opponents of trans athletes in women’s sports.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, we respect Lia as a woman, as a trans woman or whatever. We respect her identity. We just don’t think it’s fair. You can’t really have that sort of half-support,” Thomas said during Monday’s episode.
“They’re using the guise of feminism to sort of push transphobic beliefs,” Thomas added.
Gaines slammed Thomas for “gaslighting” opponents on “America Reports” Wednesday.
“What Thomas is doing in this podcast is simply gaslighting people into feeling like they’re wrong for feeling uncomfortable in the locker room, feeling like they should be okay with stepping aside and smiling and allowing these men to take our spots on the podium, take our titles, take our scholarships, take away our opportunities,” she said.
During the interview, Thomas said some of her University of Pennsylvania teammates were “half” supportive of the swimmer, who was competing against women despite being a biological man. She did not compete against women until the 2021-22 season.
Thomas’ gripes with her teammates stem from when 16 of them wrote a letter to the school saying they felt it was unfair Thomas was competing in the women’s division.
“What Thomas is doing in this podcast is simply gaslighting people…” – Riley Gaines
“I’ve talked to several Lia Thomas’ teammates, one even just yesterday after watching this podcast, who informed me the gaslighting that Thomas was portraying in that video was what they dealt with all year last year,” Gaines said. “She’s informed me of some really heartbreaking, awful stories that resulted in emotional blackmail by both Thomas and their university into trying to silence their voices, suppressed their voices, trying to make them feel guilty for wanting fair competition and safety in their sport.”
“The word that comes to mind when watching this podcast is sheer entitlement and selfishness and an utter disregard towards women,” Gaines added.
As an outspoken critic of transgender athletes in women’s sports, Gaines also commented on another recent incident involving a transgender student and high school girls in the women’s locker room.
Wisconsin’s Sun Prairie Area School District is facing widespread outrage after an 18-year-old male-to-female transgender student allegedly got into the showers with four freshman girls and exposed their male genitalia to them at an area high school.
Gaines said the incident was “traumatizing” and expressed her outrage that young women were susceptible to the encounter.
“It feels like betrayal. It feels like belittlement. And of course, it’s awkward, it’s embarrassing, it’s uncomfortable. But trauma is the best word for this. It blows my mind. These are 14-year-old girls. They should never have to be in a position where they’re seeing male genitalia without giving their consent,” she said.
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) sent a letter which claimed the trans student “undressed fully and showered completely naked right next to one of the girls,” initially with their back turned to the girls, but then faced them, fully exposing male genitals.
“It’s traumatizing. It’s feels like betrayal. It feels like belittlement. And of course, it’s awkward, it’s embarrassing, it’s uncomfortable. But trauma is the best word for this.” – Riley Gaines
The incident was reported to student services, but WILL complained that the incident should have been reported to a Title IX coordinator so that the girls could receive the support they needed and be afforded a space to file a complaint.
Dan Lennington, Deputy Counsel at WILL, shared the school district waited a month to sit down with parents to hear their concerns, calling the delay – and the lack of concrete policy on related issues – concerning for schools nationwide.
“This could be going on in schools all across the country,” he warned on “Fox & Friends Weekend” Sunday.
Gaines echoed these concerns, warning that these encounters are becoming more common.
“It’s mind-blowing and it’s becoming more and more common. My situation, what we dealt with is Division 1 swimmers at that meet where we were forced to change in the locker room with Lia Thomas, that is becoming less and less unique,” Gaines said.
“It’s happening all across the country to girls and women of all ages, all sports, all divisions. And it’s a travesty.”
Fox News’ Taylor Penley and Ryan Morik contributed to this report.