Riley Gaines Rips South Carolina Basketball Coach Over Stance On Trans Athletes

Source: McKenzie Lange / Philadelphia Citizen

Transgender individuals are the hot button topic of United States social issues right now. They’re the most vulnerable of the LGBTQ+ community, and over the past few years, have been subject to both transphobic rhetoric and laws that have been passed attempting to criminalize their existence. Anti-trans rhetoric has permeated every aspect of life and topic of conversation, and anyone interested in politics and social issues has an opinion. 

A Far-Right, Anti-Trans Movement

Conservative rhetoric has been attacking transgender people intensely for nearly a decade, now. The rise of the current far-right ideological movement coincided with the presidency of Donald Trump, whose divisive politics only helped to further separate those who believe differently from one another. 

Source: Wikimedia/Anne Marie Champagne

It has resulted in not only a transphobic cultural movement, but a political one as well. Far-right legislatures across the country have been working in the past years to pass multiple anti-trans bills. Some of the bills are simple, such as making it more difficult for trans people to formally change their name, and other are much more dangerous and sinister. 

Two States Leading the Charge

Two states have been leading the charge as far as anti-trans legislation: Missouri and Florida. Missouri has proposed nearly forty anti-trans bills during the current legislative session alone, and Florida’s governor, Ron Desantis, has been vocal in his opposition to anything “woke,” which includes awareness and openness to trans issues. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Florida is also the home of Moms for Liberty, a “parent’s rights” group that is vehemently anti-LGBTQ+, and has pushed the “groomer” narrative regarding transgender people. They oppose anything that educates about LGBTQ+ people, including books, and have led the charge regarding book bannings in various states across the country. 

Anti-Trans Rhetoric Everywhere

The rhetoric regarding trans people has spread to nearly every facet of everyday life, including ones where it might seem a little nonsensical. One of the latest issues regards trans people in sports, specifically discussing transgender women in sports. 

Source: Wikimedia/QueerUpTheHistory

The conversation surrounding trans people in sports boils down to a pretty simple concept: conservatives and gender fundamentalists believe that transgender women, since they were identified male at birth, are men, and that they have all the advantages in women’s sports that a man would have. 

A Nuanced Conversation…Or Not

This take misses many of the nuances of the conversation around transgender individuals, such as when they started transitioning and what their true hormones levels are. Regardless, it boils down to the idea that anti-trans activists don’t believe that transgender people really exist, at all. 

Source: Wikimedia/Shenkonic

This rhetoric is not isolated to older communities, either, which run further right on the conservative spectrum. Younger people have been swept up in this rhetoric as well, including but not limited to people who play sports in high schools and colleges across the country. 

Riley Gaines, Collegiate Swimmer

One such person who has been swept up in the anti-trans rhetoric is Riley Gaines. Gaines made headlines several years ago when she was swimming in the NCAA Women’s Championships, and tied for fifth place with Lia Thomas, an openly transgender swimmer. 

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Surprise

Gaines still placed in the championship and received a fifth-place trophy in the main for her efforts, but she has made a name for herself as an anti-trans activist ever since. In the aftermath of the competition, she spoke out against transgender people in sports, openly misgendering Thomas and criticizing the NCAA for allowing Thomas to compete in the women’s competition at all. 

Speaking Out Against Transgender Issues

Gaines has gone out of her way to speak loudly against transgender issues ever since that event. She has spoken alongside Moms for Liberty at events, and has gathered a following of nearly 1 million people on X, formerly known as Twitter, where she is clear and brash in her anti-trans stances. 

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Surprise

She has spoken out against transgender students getting scholarships, and recently has become one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the NCAA asking them to revoke any transgender athletes’ awards, giving them to “real women” who competed in those championships.

Continuing to Speak Out

Despite growing controversy around her stances, Gaines has not backed down. Most recently, Gaines called out Dawn Staley, the South Carolina women’s basketball coach, for her pro-trans stance regarding trans women in basketball. 

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Surprise

In a segment on “Fox and Friends,” Gaines said that Staley, whose undefeated Gamecocks defeated Iowa on Sunday to win the women’s national title, doesn’t truly believe what she said. 

A Comment on Current Events

“In three years at South Carolina, she’s won two championships,” Gaines said, regarding Staley. “I think her record is 109 and three. That’s unprecedented, so clearly she’s great at what she does.”

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore from Surprise

“She’s developed many incredible athletes whom I admire, but she’s either proving herself…to be entirely incompetent or a sellout, and personally…I don’t think she believes what she said,” Gaines continued, speaking to Brian Kilmeade.

“She had to be Politically Correct”

“If you watch the video, her silence, the hesitation and that drink of water, I think it spoke volumes. I think she knew she had to be politically correct, and I know about as good as anyone that that pressure exists and it’s real.”

Source: Youtube/Fox News

After her 2022 tie with Lia Thomas and her subsequent comments on trans women in sports, Gaines reported that she had “feared for her life” due to the backlash. She said that she was physically assaulted, stalked and abused after becoming clear in her anti-trans stance, which is what the former athlete referred to with her comments.

Staley’s Statement on Trans Athletes

This past weekend, Staley was asked during a press conference whether she believed that transender athletes should be allowed to play on a women’s college basketball team. 

Source: Youtube/Fox News

“I’m of the opinion of, if you’re a woman, you should play. If you consider yourself a woman, and you want to play sports or vice versa, you should be able to play. That’s my opinion. You want me to go deeper?” she said in her statement. 

Blowing a “Once-in-a-Lifetime” Opportunity

Gaines accused Staley of blowing a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, saying that the collegiate coach didn’t have the “courage” to stand with female athletes.

Source: Youtube/Fox News

“The bottom line is she knows perfectly well that men’s basketball is a totally different sport than women’s basketball. That’s obvious by the speed of the game, the size of the ball, the sheer amount of layups in women’s basketball compared to dunks when a player gets a fast break in men’s basketball, the distance of the three-point line, the list goes on.”

Staley Blocked Gaines Afterwards

Gaines finished, “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for her and she blew it, and truthfully, my guess is she’s okay with it until her team [is] defeated by one or more men playing on the opposite team.”

Source: X/Riley_Gaines_

After her interview aired, Gaines showed on Twitter that she had been blocked by Staley. She didn’t seem upset by this revelation, commenting “HA” to her followers, who have all rallied behind Gaines with her rhetoric. Indeed, the more extreme her rhetoric becomes, the more popular she seems to become with the far-right crowd.

An Important American Issue

Trans rights are an important issue for many Americans, no matter which side of the political spectrum the swing. Trans-rights activists believe that they are fighting for the safety of trans people, while anti-trans activists state that they’re fighting for the integrity of gender ideology. 

Source: Wikimedia/Tomasz Molina

Regardless of which way someone’s beliefs swing, it’s important to remember that these issues are about people. Transgender people have existed for centuries and will exist for centuries more, and conversations about how they exist in the world are a necessary part of shifting social perception and norms. 

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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