Twelve-time All-American swimmer Riley Gaines has condemned a US sports broadcaster for promoting a transgender athlete.
Faithwire reports ESPN celebrated the achievements of Lia Thomas in college swimming events during the channel’s Women’s History Month as the only transgender person to “ever win a NCAA Division 1 championship.”
Thomas told ESPN about being “very humbled and honoured” by the recognition and hoping to give other transgender people “inspiration and motivation.”
Thomas competed for three seasons on the men’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania.
The athlete then switched to the women’s team, winning multiple events.
Riley Gaines criticised ESPN for featuring Thomas in its tribute to women.
“Lia Thomas is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title. He is an arrogant cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman. The @ncaa is responsible,” she wrote on social media.
She condemned the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for allowing Thomas to compete as a woman.
She called ESPN “spineless” and stated that if she was a female who worked for the Disney-owned sports network, she would have walked out over the segment on Thomas.
Last year Riley Gaines tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200m freestyle NCAA championships, but there was only one fifth place trophy which was presented to Thomas.
Gaines has loudly criticised Thomas ever since, but others are now joining her.
She told Fox’s Varney & Co: “People are becoming more bold, people are starting to open their eyes to this gender ideology propaganda being pushed by the left, the media, and within education systems. They’re opening their eyes to how harmful this is, specifically, to women and to children.”
The swimmer-turned-activist further called for tangible solutions and athletic divisions for transgender individuals that allows them to compete “fairly” and “safely.”
“A lot of people will, of course, look at this as something that’s segregation, or we’re isolating the trans community. But from my perspective, we’re embracing the trans community. Five years ago, if you would have suggested a trans category, people would have laughed in your face. But now we’re acknowledging these people do, in fact, exist,” Gaines said.
Faithwire reports her outburst came just days after World Athletics banned biological males from competing against women.
World swimming’s governing body World Aquatics has previously effectively banned transgender swimmers from competing in elite women’s events.