Former American collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines recently addressed her resilience in standing for conservative principles, particularly when it came to transgender athletes in female sports.
“We knew it was wrong — what was happening in regards to the competition and the locker room and the silencing,” Gaines said during a recent guest appearance on the “Higher Ground With Billy Hallowell Podcast.” “We all knew it was wrong, and even our coaches, they knew it was wrong.”
However, she realized that no one stepped up and spoke out against the issue at hand.
“I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for someone else to [speak up], because I thought it was someone else’s job,” Gaines said. “I thought surely a coach would do it or a parent — someone’s dad would surely stick up for us, or someone with political power.”
“Someone who is supposed to be protecting us would protect us,” she continued.
According to Faithwire, Gaines eventually decided to be a voice in the issues that many others were avoiding.
“I came to this realization of — if we as female athletes, we as women weren’t willing to stick up for ourselves, how could we expect someone else to?” she said. “That’s when I kind of decided to take it upon myself to take a stance … that men should not be in women’s sports.”
She also recalled one experience where a biological male had been changing alongside her and other women in the locker room.
“You’re fully exposed … but to add someone of the opposite sex with male genitalia, male eyes, a male gaze in that same room … it’s awkward, it’s embarrassing, it’s uncomfortable,” she said. “But it felt like betrayal. And I think the best word to describe it without being over-dramatic is ‘traumatic.’”
Gaines also shared her frustration with officials and others who dismissed “without even a second thought” and without consideration for the impacts those decisions have had.
“We all felt violated,” she said.
During her activism, Gaines said that she has often received scrutiny and intense backlash for taking a stand against biological males in women’s sports.
“They’ll label you … transphobic, homophobic, racist, white supremacist, domestic terrorist, fascist,” Gaines said. “But that’s all it is — name-calling, because they don’t have truth on their side, they don’t have common sense, they don’t have logic, or reasoning, or science on their side.”
She continued, “We do on our side. Therefore, the only way they can dissuade from our argument is through the petty, personal attacks.
She also cited her Christian faith in helping her navigate through the challenges she faces.
“This is a spiritual battle,” she said. “I’ve always been spiritual. I grew up in the church. I’m very fortunate to have that firm foundation, but, I will tell you, this past year … I have seen very clearly how God works, and how He moves, and how He has His hand on me, most certainly.”
At the same time, however, she acknowledges how the “opposition works,” noting a “battle of morals versus evil” that has grown across the mainstream.
“I’ve looked that evil in the eyes when I was in San Francisco, and I was held hostage and assaulted,” she said, alluding to when protestors came after her earlier this year during an appearance at San Francisco State University. “It’s soulless, it’s violent, it’s vengeful, it’s hateful.”
Overall, Gaines says she holds no hard feelings against her critics and shared that she has even prayed for the protestors who give her a hard time.
“I’m doing this out of love,” she said of her activism. “I’m done competing. I’m fighting for this for my future daughter.”
“What about us as women? What about our privacy, what about our safety — our equal opportunity?”, she continued.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Brian Matangelo
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.