Speaking before the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Health and Financial Services on Tuesday, NCAA All-American swimmer Riley Gaines explained why the Biden administration’s proposed changes to Title IX regarding women’s sports would harm female athletes.
While concluding her opening statement, Gaines took aim at Rep. Summer Lee, who in her own opening statement claimed that the subcommittee would hear "transphobic bigotry" from Gaines and others.
"Ranking Member Lee, if my testimony makes me transphobic, then I believe your opening monologue makes you a misogynist," Gaines said.
"In March of 2022, female swimmers from around the country and I were forced to compete at NCAAs against Lia, formerly Will, Thomas. We watched as this male swam to a women’s national title, beating out the most impressive and accomplished female swimmers in the nation, including Olympians and American record holders," Gaines began.
The former University of Kentucky swimmer noted that despite tying with Thomas in the 200 freestyle, "I was denied the trophy because the NCAA claimed it was necessary for Thomas to hold the trophy when photos were being taken."
"It was clear to me, my teammates, and my competitors that they had reduced everything we had worked our entire lives for down to a photo op to validate the feelings and the identity of a male."
Gaines continued on to explain that female athletes, including herself, were forced to change in the same dressing room as Thomas at this competition "in front of the six foot, fully intact naked male."
"And as I’ve testified previously, we were not forewarned of this arrangement. We were not asked for our consent and we did not give our consent to this exposure and to be exploited."
"Unfortunately, Thomas was not a one-off across the country and in various sports males are entering women's athletic competitions being given spots on women's teams and being granted entry to our locker rooms," Gaines said.
Gaines explained that this was "not fair to women," and added that "science of course supports that instinct" that Americans "know intuitively."
"In fact, studies consistently show males have about a 10 to 12 percent athletic advantage over females. This gap is evident in almost every sport and at every level of competition. Yes, hormone therapy can narrow this gap, but it cannot close it. And studies consistently demonstrate that surgery and testosterone suppression do not reduce mal athletic performance to normal female levels."
Noting Thomas, Gaines said that the biological male athlete was "mediocre against the men at best" and then "dominating all of the women in the entire country, by body lengths might I add, in a matter of a year."
"Not only do women have to worry about losing opportunities and being exploited in locker rooms, allowing men into women's sports also puts girls at greater risk of injury."
Gaines spoke of the North Carolina student who was injured by a transgender player during a high school volleyball game in 2022, who had a ball spiked into her head.
The student, Payton McNabb, "experienced excessive trauma to her head and neck and long term concussion symptoms. Still to this day, a year and three-ish months later, she is still partially paralyzed on her right side. Her vision is impaired, her memory is impaired, and she isn’t playing college sports like she had dreamed of for herself."
Gaines also noted the case of a male player who was allowed on a female field hockey team in Massachusetts, who last month injured a female player after shooting for a goal, causing "significant facial and dental injuries."
"Injuries of course, can and do happen when females are playing against other females. But allowing men to play women's sports increases the likelihood and severity of such injuries," Gaines said.
"That's one of the reasons why for 50 years federal Title IX regulations have allowed schools to offer separate teams for women and men when the sports or contact sports are involved competitive skill."
Gaines noted the proposed changes the Department of Education has made, under which "women's sports aren't just for women. They're for anyone who simply says they are a woman."
"The new rule mandates that every school in the country must demonstrate the unfairness of male participation on each specific women's team that they offer and develop rules that minimize harm to trans-identified athletes."
"But what about the harm to us? Who was working to minimize the harm done to female athletes?"
taking aim at schools that allow biological males to compete on women’s teams, Gaines said they are "denying a female student athletic opportunity. And that is sex-based discrimination and it violates Title IX regardless of what the new regulations might say."
"It is my sincere hope that members of this committee will take action to stop the Biden administration's illegal and administrative rewrite of Title IX. Of course there is a place for everyone, regardless of gender identity, regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of race or what sports you play, there’s a place for everyone to play sports in this country. But unsafe unfair and discriminatory practices towards women must stop. Inclusion cannot be prioritized over safety and fairness."
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