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Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines blasted Lia, formerly William, Thomas for backing a Biden administration regulation that would force American states to permit men in women's sports.
Although it's personal for Gaines, who had to compete with the male athlete last year, the All-American swim star has also made clear that she wants to help spare future generations of girls and women from having men similarly invade their sports.
What is the background?
Earlier this month, the Biden administration proposed a regulation prohibiting schools and universities that receive federal funding from segregating sports across the board based on biological sex.
TheBlaze previously reported that the proposal "would apply to public K-12 schools, as well as colleges, universities, and other institutions that receive federal funding."
Thomas came out in support of the proposed regulation in a recent video, in which he appeared dressed in a shirt that said, "Trans athletes belong in sports."
"I started swimming when I was five years old and it has taught me so much. It has given me so many opportunities to learn, grow, and develop ... opportunities that I wouldn't have gotten if I didn't have access to athletics," said Thomas. "That's why it breaks my heart to see trans kids across the country lose out on these opportunities."
Thomas was a middling performer on the University of Pennsylvania men's swimming team until he starting taking hormones in 2019 and competing against women.
He went onto crush records set by females in the 500-yard freestyle at the 2022 NCAA championships and tie with Gaines for fifth last April in the women's 200-meter. According to Gaines, it was around that time Thomas exposed his male genitalia in a women's locker room.
The former male athlete said in his video that the proposed rule "is a good start" but "not enough," suggesting that as it is presently framed, there will remain exceptions to the rule "under the guise of competitive fairness."
Accordingly, Thomas called on activists to pressure the Biden administration to push the transgender agenda farther.
\u201cUnder the guise of competitive fairness? Are you really trying to say you would have won a national title against the men? Does it not break your heart to see women lose out on these opportunities? \n\nThe Biden Admins proposed bill denies science, truth, and common sense\u201d— Riley Gaines (@Riley Gaines) 1681782589
In a Monday critique, Gaines picked apart Thomas' claims, starting with his suggestion that same-sex competition requirements amounted to discrimination advanced "under the guise of competitive fairness."
Gaines tweeted, "Are you really trying to say you would have won a national title against the men?"
A female swimmer who once competed against Thomas told the Washington Examiner in January 2022, "Lia was not even close to being competitive as a man in the 50 and the 100 (freestyle events). ... But just because Lia is biologically a man, [Lia] is just naturally better than many females in the 50 and the 100 or anything that [Lia] wasn’t good at as a man."
The data appears to buttress the anonymous swimmer's claims.
For the 2022-2023 University of Pennsylvania women's swimming team, the top time for the 50 free is 23.19. For the men's team, the top time is 19.79. For the 500 freestyle, the top time for the women's team was 4:38.86, whereas the top time for the men's team was 4:22.10.
In an April 17 letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Gaines noted, "Thomas was allowed to compete in the women's division after competing as a member of the University of Pennsylvania Men's Swim Team for three years. Thomas beat out the most impressive and accomplished female swimmers in the country, including Olympians and American record holders. (Previously, Thomas had been ranked in the 400ths — at best — in the men's division."
Gaines, physically attacked this month for speaking out on this issue, added in her critique of Thomas' video, "Does it not break your heart to see women lose out on these opportunities?"
The female All-American underscored that the proposed regulation "denies science, truth, and common sense," in a follow-up tweet.
"This take is selfish and shows an utter disregard for women. The Biden Administration is actively and aggressively working to pass laws that erase decent and fair treatment for women in sports."
\u201cThis take is selfish and shows an utter disregard for women. The Biden Administration is actively and aggressively working to pass laws that erase decent and fair treatment for women in sports. @POTUS\n\nI'll post a link for the comments + guidance on how to respond soon\u201d— Riley Gaines (@Riley Gaines) 1681782589
Biden's war on women's sports
Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) in February reintroduced the "Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act" (H.R. 734), which is expected to come to a vote in Congress this week.
In her recent letter of support for this legislation, Gaines wrote, "The number of female athletes who have been denied opportunities, traumatized, or hurt by policies that claim to promote 'inclusion' is growing at an alarming rate. This is simply unacceptable, and the integrity of women's sports is eroding."
The Biden White House indicated that President Biden would veto the bill. Although Republicans control the House, they are far from a veto-proof majority.
"The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 734," said the White House in a statement.
"H.R. 734 would deny access to sports for many families by establishing an absolute ban on transgender students—even those as young as elementary schoolers—playing on a team consistent with their gender identity. Schools, coaches, and athletic associations around the country are already working with families to develop participation rules that are fair and that take into account particular sports, grade levels, and levels of competition."
While the Democratic administration seeks to unilaterally force coaches to admit boys into girls' sports, the Biden White House claimed that "politicians should not dictate a one-size-fits-all requirement that forces coaches to remove kids from their teams."
Feminist novelist Christina Dalcher noted that those concerned about the Biden administration's Title IX changes might be able to affect the outcome by commenting on the Regulations.gov page:
\u201cI mean it. If you want to #SaveWomensSports in the US, share the link to this https://t.co/YB9LwW1r0p page to post a comment against Title IX changes \ud83d\udc47\ud83d\udc47\nhttps://t.co/HmVnQDpAMf\n\nClick the comment button.\n\nYou don\u2019t need to be a US citizen (I think), but here are a few tips:\u201d— Christina Dalcher (@Christina Dalcher) 1681538565
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Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.