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Women’s Sports Advocate Riley Gaines to Attend Biden’s State of the Union Address

AP Photo/Darren Abate

Michigan Rep. Lisa McClain (R) will bring Riley Gaines, a former swimmer at the University of Kentucky who competed against Will “Lia” Thomas, as her guest to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. 


Gaines, as Townhall covered, spoke to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including McClain, last week to share her experience competing against a biological male in her sport. Gaines and Thomas tied in their race at the NCAA swimming championships last year, but Thomas got to take home the trophy. Gaines is the Stand with Women spokeswoman at the Independent Women’s Forum to advocate for fairness in women’s sports. This comes as the Biden administration works toward rewriting Title IX protections to include "gender identity," which would be detrimental to women's sports.

McClain told Townhall in an interview ahead of the SOTU on Tuesday that Gaines is “one of the most courageous women I have ever met and really a role model for all women, but especially my daughters.”

“It’s one thing to read about it, but it’s another thing to put a name to the face,” McClain said of Gaines’ story about competing against Thomas. “I was appalled. I was disgusted. I was angry. But after I put those aside, I was hopeful. And I was hopeful because here we have a courageous young woman against the odds – fighting against the universities, fighting against society, fighting against her peers, standing up for my daughters. I mean, that is an amazing story to tell. And I want to give her, or, help give her the platform to tell that story because we need people like Riley to stand up.”


In last week’s panel, Gaines got emotional when she spoke about policies that allow biological male “transgender” athletes to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms. As Townhall covered, Thomas was allowed to use the women’s facilities at the University of Pennsylvania even though he had male genitalia and was still attracted to women. 

Before her remarks in the U.S. Capitol last week, Gaines told Townhall that “there has not been a clear solution to the problem [of transgender athletes] at hand. There has still been an influx of biological men competing in women’s sports.” As a result, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) reintroduced legislation strengthening Title IX protections to keep sports separated by biological sex. 

“The Steube bill was filed this morning, which was phenomenal,” Gaines said of the legislation. “It upholds Title IX the way it was supposed to be upheld.”

“I think it’s great that we now have a majority in the House,” she continued, adding that it should “provide people with hope on this issue.” 

Ahead of Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday, Gaines doubled down against his administration's proposals to rewrite Title IX to allow protections based on sex to include the concept of "gender identity."

“What Biden needs to do to protect women's sports is the exact opposite of what he's actively doing now," Gaines explained. "The Biden Administration is trying to rewrite Title IX so people would not be discriminated on the basis of gender identity rather than sex. This is not progressive, actually it's quite the contrary." 

"President Biden is trying to take us back to the 1970s before Title IX was enacted. We need leaders who are willing to acknowledge and fight for women to have equal opportunities, privacy in our locker rooms, and safety in our sports. This applies to girls and women of all ages and all athletic ability," Gaines continued. "Fairness. Integrity. Sport and competition demand these principles. We need them to preserve the importance of being honest and of respecting others. “

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