Former College Swimmer Challenges Durbin’s Claim On Transgender Athletes’ Rights

Former college championship swimmer Riley Gaines stood up to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) during a hearing on LGBTQ civil rights. Gaines, who has been advocating for the rights of biological female athletes, questioned Durbin’s accusations that Republicans were promoting “hateful rhetoric” by questioning the rights of transgender youth.

During the hearing, Durbin emphasized the need for careful language when discussing this sensitive issue, stating that children are listening and their safety is at risk.

“In fact, today, transgender youth are among the most at risk of homelessness, depression and death by suicide. So, when these young people who are already struggling hear politicians amplify hateful rhetoric that denies their very existence, what message does it send?” he stated.

However, Gaines challenged Durbin’s perspective by urging him to consider the rights and experiences of biological female athletes. She argued that allowing transgender individuals to compete in women’s sports creates a disadvantage for biological females. 

Gaines expressed concerns about the rights to privacy and safety being compromised in order to protect a small population while neglecting the opportunities and well-being of women and girls.

“So easily, their rights to privacy and safety thrown out of the window to protect a small population, protect one group as long as they’re happy. “What about us? That is the overall general consensus of how we all felt in that locker room,” she asked.

Durbin didn’t have much to say in his defense other than claiming there is “no evidence” to suggest that transgender athletes outperform athletes who were assigned female at birth.

“There is no evidence that transgender athletes are an issue in certain levels of sports. No transgender female athlete has ever won an Olympic medal in women’s sports, though the International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes to compete since 2004,” he stated.

He also acknowledged that a non-binary athlete who was assigned female at birth won a medal in women’s soccer in 2021.

Gaines, having competed against trans swimmer Lia Thomas during her time at the University of Kentucky, emphasized during the hearing that transgender athletes who are biological men have no place in women’s sports.

Speaking from her personal experience as a former standout swimmer, she expressed the sentiment shared by many female athletes who feel that their interests are being disregarded in the pursuit of protecting transgender athletes’ rights as she stressed the disturbing exposure to male genitalia biological women are subjected to in locker rooms.

According to her, she and other biological female athletes “only became aware we’d be undressing next to a man when we had to see a man undressing while we were simultaneously undressing.”

“Any man could have walked into our locker room… and we weren’t forewarned about it,” she added.