Riley Gaines on Wednesday responded to remarks Lia Thomas made in a podcast interview in April when she claimed advocates for keeping women’s sports fair and equal were using the “guise of feminism” to push “transphobic beliefs.”
Thomas made the statement on fellow trans swimmer Schuyler Bailar's podcast “Dear Schuyler,” and the former University of Pennsylvania swimmer’s remarks were brought up during a Senate hearing. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asked Gaines for her opinion on Thomas’ comments.
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“Feminism is not a fluid term,” Gaines said. “The meaning of what it means to be a feminist is to uphold, respect, honor, embrace and celebrate women on our own physical ceilings – our own uniqueness. That term has not changed. What this really is, is a male mansplaining what it is to be feminist, which I honestly think is pretty ironic and something we’ve seen before.”
Thomas said in April some of her University of Pennsylvania teammates were “half” supportive of the swimmer, who was competing against women despite being a biological man.
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“They’re like, ‘Oh, we respect Lia as a woman, as a trans woman or whatever. We respect her identity. We just don’t think it’s fair.’ You can’t really have that sort of half support where you’re like, ‘Oh, I respect her as a woman here, but not here,'” Thomas said.
“You can’t sort of break me down as a person into little pieces, and you’re like, ‘OK, this is OK, this is OK, that’s not.’ It’s pretending to be supportive on some level but, in reality, it just sort of falls flat.
“They’re using the guise of feminism to sort of push transphobic beliefs. I think a lot of people in that camp sort of carry an implicit bias against trans people but don’t want to, I guess, fully manifest or speak that out. And so they try to just play it off as this sort of half support.”
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Gaines was speaking at the “Protecting Pride: Defending the Civil Rights of LGBTQ+ Americans” hearing.