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Riley Gaines & large anti-trans coalition to rally against trans athletes at NCAA convention

Riley Gaines
Riley Gaines Photo: Screenshot

A coalition of anti-trans activists and groups plan to protest outside the 2024 NCAA Convention in Phoenix, Arizona on Thursday in an effort to convince the organization to ban trans women from women’s sports.

The 4th annual “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally will include, among others, the Independent Women’s Forum, the Women’s Liberation Front, Concerned Women for America, as well as former collegiate swimmers Riley Gaines and Paula Scanlan.

Both Gaines and Scanlan have become darlings of the far-right anti-trans movement since claiming they were victimized by the participation of trans University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas in women’s swimming. Gaines tied for fifth with Thomas in a competition, which she said was “heartbreaking and somber.” Scanlan was on Thomas’s team and said her presence in the locker room traumatized her.

Ahead of the rally, Scanlan spoke with the Daily Mail, misgendering Thomas and stating, “As a survivor of sexual assault, I was forced to undress in front of a man every day before getting in the pool at Penn. The NCAA sponsored this repeat trauma through its failure to recognize women’s sports. We beg the NCAA to give women our dignity back.”

A press release stated the rally’s theme as “We Won’t Back Down.”

“Sex-based categories are important for competitive sports just like age classifications and weight categories,” said Gaines in a statement. “We are asking very little of the NCAA. Maintain the fairness necessary for competition and safety.”

As part of the protest, the anti-trans coalition also reportedly plans to send a letter to NCAA President Charlie Baker to demand he revoke the organization’s Transgender Student-Athlete Participation Policy, which allows trans students to compete with their gender if they meet certain hormone requirements.

“Shame on Charlie Baker for continuing to enforce this discriminatory policy,” Jennifer C. Braceras, vice president for Legal Policy at Independent Women’s Form and founder of Independent Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “The NCAA may not be bound by Title IX, but the schools that make up its membership are, and the NCAA has an obligation to help its member schools comply with equal opportunity mandates, not subvert them.”

Anti-trans activists continue to campaign against trans athletes under the guise of protecting women in sports, but LGBTQ+ advocates emphasize the argument is nothing but thinly veiled transphobia.

Gaines has been especially vocal in her crusade against trans athletes, building an entire career around the fact that she and Thomas once tied for fifth place. Most recently, Gaines outed a high school volleyball player and caused the teen to lose her college scholarship. Gaines even posted a photo of the teen to her more than 860,000 followers.

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