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Lia Thomas is NCAA’s first Transgender Division One National Champion

Despite the change in trans participation policies by USA Swimming that would have disqualified her, NCAA ruled Thomas was qualified to swim

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Lia Thomas, 4th swimmer from the top, lane 4, she's further left than the other swimmers hugging the wall (Photo by Dawn Ennis)

ATLANTA – Lia Thomas, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, swam faster than any other woman in the 500-yard freestyle competition Thursday in Atlanta and made history by doing so. Not just because she finished in 4:33:24, more than a second faster than her closest competitor, but because she is an out transgender woman.

Her honor came at the Women’s Swimming and Diving National Championships, and despite rules that require her to speak to the news media following her win, Thomas spoke only to ESPN and “declined” attending the mandatory news conference, according to a spokesperson.

As for her victory, there are people who are plenty mad about it. When ESPN interviewed the 22-year-old, live, following the event, and some in the crowd booed.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations for this meet,” Thomas told ESPN, according to a transcript of the interview provided by out nonbinary journalist Katie Barnes. “I was just happy to be here, trying to race and compete as best as I could.”

The ESPN correspondent asked the Austin, Texas native about competing “under the spotlight.” 

“I try to ignore it as much as I can. I try to focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races and just try to block out everything else,” Thomas said. She added: ”It means the world to be here, being with two of my best friends and teammates and to be able to compete.”

The interview ended, and some in the stands booed. Among the parents and supporters from across the country were demonstrators from an anti-transgender inclusion organization, Save Women’s Sports. 

Activists against transgender inclusion protest outside the McAuley Aquatics Center on March 17, 2022 (Photo by Dawn Ennis)

“It’s not right. It’s not fair,” Beth Stelzer, the group’s founder, told me amid a crowd of about 20 anti-trans protesters, waving signs and leading chants with a bullhorn outside the McAuley Aquatics Center on the campus of Georgia Tech.

“We are here to give these girls, parents, coaches, that are too afraid to speak up a voice, because women matter. We won’t say no. Save women’s sports!”

Beth Stelzer (Photo by Dawn Ennis)

Despite the change in transgender participation policies by USA Swimming that would have disqualified her, the NCAA ruled earlier this month that Thomas was qualified to swim. I asked Stelzer, who is an amateur powerlifter, about the fact that Thomas is competing fair and square, according to the NCAA.

“I think it’s cowardly,” said Stelzer. “I think that it has been driven by money and feelings, instead of doing what is right and what is right is protecting women.” 

According to one of the university officials keeping a close eye on the competing demonstrations, there were no altercations, no arrests, no injuries, and, he told me, he saw “no women in need of protecting.” He declined to give his name. 

Another official told me he needed to step in when one demonstrator “crossed the line.” More about that, after details of the meet. 

The 500 Free

Earlier in the day, Thomas led throughout her preliminary heat and extended her lead over Stanford’s Brooke Forde on the final lap to finish with her best time so far, 4 minutes, 33.82 seconds. Her previous best this year was 4:34.06. Stanford’s Brooke Forde finished second in the heat and sixth overall at 4:38.19. 

Then came the finals. Just after 6 p.m., Thomas and the field of eight swimmers were tightly packed for several laps, with Thomas trailing Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant of the University of Virginia for much of the heat. Then in the final laps, Thomas pulled ahead and finished more than a full second ahead of Weyant.

No one, including Thomas, set any NCAA or pool records Thursday. 

There was some applause and cheers from spectators, but the largest outpouring came as Weyant touched the wall, a repeat of what happened in the prelims when the crowd waited for the second-place finisher before they cheered. 

The crowd fell quiet when Thomas was introduced at the beginning of the finals, then resumed cheering for the other swimmers. During the award ceremony that followed the crowd’s boos for Thomas, her competitors and spectators politely clapped for her.

Trans History

Thomas is not the first trans NCAA competitor in Division 1. Kye Allums earned that title in 2010. She isn’t even be the first trans NCAA swimmer: Schuyler Bailar notched that moment in history in 2015 as the first trans athlete to compete on a DI men’s team.

Bailar, a friend of Thomas, was at the championships Thursday, cheering her on, along with others waving trans Pride flags. Also, there is one other NCAA All-American of note: In 2019, Olympic hopeful CeCé Telfer became the first NCAA champion in DII track.

Forbes contributor & LA Blade Sports Editor Dawn Ennis with Schuyler Bailar
(Photo by Dawn Ennis)

Telfer’s achievement and the success of two Connecticut high school track stars sparked controversy across the country about trans girls and trans women competing with cisgender student-athletes. The Connecticut case wound up in federal court, and despite a judge tossing the suit, it’s now in the appeal phase. 

The swimming success of Thomas, who up until 2019 competed with Penn’s men’s team, has been seized by conservatives as a rallying cry to generate support for bans against trans student-athletes in 11 states and for other laws that discriminate against trans American youth, such as outlawing gender-affirming healthcare, and even Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill. 

What’s missing from all that legislation is actual scientific evidence that would support the cause of groups like Save Women’s Sports. Despite dire warnings, CeCé Telfer didn’t destroy women’s sports in 2019. Laurel Hubbard didn’t destroy women’s sports at the Olympics last summer. And so far, Lia Thomas hasn’t destroyed women’s sports in 2022. 

Journalist Julie Compton interviewed researcher Joanna Harper about the science for NBC News.

“The question isn’t ‘Do trans women have advantages?’ Because yes, that is so obviously true,” said Harper, a medical physicist and the author of “Sporting Gender: The History, Science, and Stories of Transgender and Intersex Athletes. Harper added that it is normal for athletes to have certain advantages and that any advantages trans women have are not necessarily unfair. “But can trans women and cis women compete against one another in meaningful competition? That’s the important question. That’s the interesting question. And that’s a question that we don’t have a 100 percent firm answer yet.”

“It’s a truism of trans athletes that we can compete in women’s sports as long as we don’t win,” said Harper, who herself is trans. “If we win, then it’s problematic. And, of course, how can you compete if you’re not allowed to win?”

The Other Trans Swimmer

Iszac Henig is the only swimmer for Yale at these championships, and is also the only man. He is a transgender man, who, in order to continue competing in women’s swimming with his Bulldogs teammates, opted to delay one part of his medical transition: He postponed the administration of the gender-affirming hormone testosterone. He did have top surgery, however.

Iszac Henig/Instagram

On Thursday evening, Henig finished 16th in the 50-free race, earning All-American Honorable Mention. He will compete Friday and Saturday in the the 100-butterfly and 100-free. In Saturday’s meet, he will be competing head to head against Thomas, the first time two transgender student-athletes have appeared in the same championship event. 

Despite Henig being a man, Stelzer misidentified him in our interview when I asked if she was also opposed to him competing. 

“If a woman who identifies as being a man wants to swim with the women, I’m all for it ,as long as they’re not taking any testosterone or other performance enhancing substances,” she said. “There might be a little bit of an issue with the mastectomy, because that could possibly streamline, so a little bit of an advantage there, some might say. But I have no issue with a woman swimming in women’s sports. And when it comes down to it, that’s a woman’s body there.” 

Although Henig was not available for comment, a small but vocal group from Yale University traveled to Atlanta for the meet, and cheered him on. They told me they were beyond excited for him, and they explained that like Henig, they are not granting media interviews, but wanted it known how proud they are of him.

Dueling Protests Outside

Far from the pool, the protesters chanting “Even when we’re swimmin’ we’re standing up for women!” were separated from an equally loud group of about 20 pro-transgender inclusion demonstrators, chanting just as loud. 

“Hey hey, ho, ho! Transphobes have got to go!” and “Say it loud, say it clear! Trans athletes are welcome here!” they shouted.

Demonstrators supporting transgender student-athletes across the street from the McAuley Aquatics Center in Atlanta, Ga. on March 17, 2022. (Photo by Dawn Ennis)

Some of those in that group were themselves trans and nonbinary. As they spoke to reporters, one of the Save Women’s Sports activists crossed the street to record the counter-protest, getting within inches of some of the demonstrators’ faces with her camera. This was when one of the officials watching the dueling protests and maintaining order stepped between her and the demonstrators, at one point directing her to back off. Her name is Kat, and she’s from New York.

Save Women Sports activist Kat records video of trans rights demonstrators across the street from the McAuley Aquatics Center in Atlanta, Ga. on March 17, 2022. (Photo by Dawn Ennis)

“I used to support transgender rights,” Kat told me, and later she disclosed that she used to identify as nonbinary and has trans friends and family members. “But then I learned about the government changing the laws to erase the difference between sex and gender and endangering biological women.” 

Kat is referring to President Biden’s executive order, signed on the day he was inaugurated. It actually says: 

“Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

It also says both Title VII and Title IX related to discrimination should include protections on the basis of gender identity. It doesn’t erase sex. It expands the scope of protections from discrimination. 

Another Save Women Sports activist worked the crowd, handing out trinkets with their logo to those few spectators willing to take them. For the most part, they were later found littering the stands under seats and outside McAuley. 

When the TV camera crews, reporters and photographers from the national news outlets packed up their gear and left, so did the protesters.

*************************

Editor’s Note: The preceding article was a media share between Forbes.com & the Los Angeles Blade.

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Brittney Griner and wife celebrate birth of their son

Cherelle Griner gave birth to healthy baby boy earlier this month

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Brittney Griner (Screen capture via Instagram)

It’s a boy for Brittney and Cherelle Griner. The Phoenix Mercury center revealed the news in interviews with CBS Sports and NBC News. 

“Every minute I feel like he’s popping into my head, said Griner. “Literally everything revolves around him. And I love it.”

The couple officially welcomed the baby boy on July 8. He weighs 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

“That’s my man. He is amazing,” Griner told CBS Sports. “They said as soon as you see them, everything that you thought mattered just goes out the window. That’s literally what happened.” 

Griner, 33, corrected the CBS News correspondent who said, “You’re about to be a mom!” She told her Cherelle, 33, had already delivered the baby and that she preferred to be called,“Pops.” 

Griner told NBC News correspondent Liz Kreutz they chose to name their newborn son, “Bash.” 

The WNBA star said she is Bash’s biggest fan and is constantly taking photos of him. “My whole phone has turned into him now,” Griner told CBS Sports.

The baby comes as Griner gets set to play in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game and then head to Paris with Team USA to compete for their 8th straight gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games. 

“It kind of sucks because I have to leave, but at the same time, he will understand,” said Griner. 

Her time in Paris will mark the first time since the basketball star was released from a Russian gulag, where she was held on drug charges for nearly 10 months in 2022.

“BG is locked in and ready to go,” Griner told NBC News on Friday. “I’m happy, I’m in a great place. I’m representing my country, the country that fought for me to come back. I’m gonna represent it well.”

Griner also spoke with NBC News about her hopes the U.S. can win the freedom of imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was sentenced to 16 years in a Russian maximum security prison on Friday. 

“We have to get him back,” she said. 

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High hurdler Trey Cunningham comes out as gay

Florida State University alum grew up in Ala.

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Trey Cunningham (Photo courtesy of Cunningham's Instagram page)

He didn’t get to punch his ticket to the Olympics this summer but Trey Cunningham, 26, one of the world’s best high hurdlers, is in the news for a far more personal reason: He publicly came out as gay. 

“We say our goals out loud,” Cunningham told the New York Times Monday, explaining a technique he has relied upon in his training as an elite athlete. “If there’s something we want to achieve, we say it. Putting something in words makes it real.”

His sexuality isn’t exactly a secret. Cunningham came out to his parents and friends by phone five years ago at age 20. 

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” he told the Times, recalling that he found himself dripping with sweat as he waited for the ringing to end and for the calls to be connected. 

Cunningham revealed to the newspaper that he got the sense that at least some of his friends were not at all surprised by this news, and had been “waiting for me,” he said. “I was really lucky to have a group of people who did not care.”

He was in college then, starting to “explore the idea” of his sexual attraction. 

“It took me awhile to know it felt right,” he said. 

His high school years in Winfield, Ala., were a time for friends and fun, dreaming of playing pro basketball with the Boston Celtics before discovering he enjoyed “flinging myself at solid objects at high speed,” he said. It was not a place conducive to dating other boys. 

Cunningham recalled his hometown as “rural, quite conservative, quite religious: The sort of place where you did not want to be the gay kid at school,” he told the paper. “So, I had certain expectations of what my life would look like, and it took me a little while to get my head around it, looking different to that.”

So, it was not a surprise that his parents gave him some “pushback” — in his words — when he called them with the news five years ago. 

“They had certain expectations for their little boy, for what his life would be like, and that’s OK,” he told the Times. “I gave them a 5-year grace period. I had to take my time. They could take theirs, too.” 

Cunningham drew a parallel between his own process and theirs. “What was true for me was also true for my parents,” said the world-class sprinter. 

And he is world-class, even if he’ll be watching the Summer Games instead of competing in them. As the Times reported, Cunningham is ranked 11th in the world. In 2022, he won the silver medal in high hurdles at the world championships in Eugene, Ore., and last month he placed ninth in the 110-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic trials. 

“If you do well in the U.S. trials, you know you have a good shot at a medal,” he said.

Following his disappointing finish in what he described as a “stacked field” of competitors, he is coming out as gay in an interview with a journalist now because everyone who he feels needs to know has known for some time, he said. Also, he recognizes that being out is still rare. 

“There are lots of people who are in this weird space,” said Cunningham. “They’re not out. But it is kind of understood.”

What he hopes is that both sports and the wider world will someday get to a place where “people do not have to ‘come out,” he said, where people can “just get on with being them.”

In addition to being an elite athlete, Cunningham has a Master of Science degree from Florida State University, a deal with Adidas and — with his scruffy square jaw and pouty lips — he is a sought-after Ford model.

He said in the interview that he realized coming out comes with practical and potentially financial considerations: Competing in countries where being gay is a crime, like Qatar. Although he doesn’t think hiding his sexuality inhibited his performance or that some great weight is now lifted, he believes being public about it has value.

There are times, Cunningham said, when it pays to say something out loud, to make things real. This is that time. 

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‘Woke up an Olympian’: Transgender nonbinary sprinter Nikki Hiltz makes Team USA

Hiltz qualified for the Summer Olympic Games in Paris with a record-breaking run

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By Dawn Ennis

EUGENE, ORE. — They ran like the wind, broke the tape at the finish line and clutched their chest with the broadest smile on their face. Then Nikki Hiltz collapsed to the track, having set a new record in the 1,500-meter race at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and earned a spot on Team USA. 

As the realization sank in that they would be representing the United States in Paris as an out transgender nonbinary athlete, what the Paris-bound Olympian did next was to scribble a message of LGBTQ+ representation on the last day of Pride Month, writing with a red marker upon the glass of the camera that records each athlete’s signature on a whiteboard: 

“I ❤️ the gays,” they wrote, and above it, they signed their first name. 

Hiltz, 29, finished the race on Sunday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field in first-place with a final time of 3:55:33, breaking third-place finisher Elle St. Pierre’s 2021 record of 3:58:03. 

Hiltz credited St. Pierre, the top-finishing American and third-place finisher in the women’s 1,500 at the Tokyo Olympics, with motivated them and the other competitors to race faster. With a first lap time of 61 seconds, St. Pierre led the race for the majority of its duration. St. Pierre and Emily Mackay, who placed second, also both earned spots in the Paris Olympics.

“If someone would have told me this morning that 3:56 doesn’t make the team, I don’t want to know that. I’m just in the race to run it and race it and that’s what I did,” Hiltz said after the race. The Santa Cruz native who came out in 2021 as trans nonbinary told NBC Sports that the accomplishment is “bigger than just me.”

“I wanted to run this for my community,” Hiltz said, “All of the LGBT folks, yeah, you guys brought me home that last hundred. I could just feel the love and support.” 

On Monday, Hiltz reflected on the race and how they became an Olympian in a post on Instagram.

“Woke up an Olympian. 🥹 Yesterday afternoon in Eugene Oregon a childhood dream of mine came true. I’m not sure when this will fully sink in… All I know is today I’m waking up just so grateful for my people, overwhelmed by all the love and support, and filled with joy that I get to race people I deeply love and respect around a track for a living. 🙏”

Hiltz also shared a photo with their girlfriend, runner Emma Gee, and captioned it: “Remember in Inside Out 2 when Joy says “maybe this is what happens when you grow up… you feel less joy”? Yeah I actually have no idea what she’s talking about. 🎈🌈🤠🦅🥐🇫🇷”

They shared photos in their new Team USA garb, too. 

While they will be the first out trans nonbinary member of the U.S. track and field team, Hiltz will not be the first nonbinary Olympian. That honor goes to Quinn, who played soccer for Canada in Tokyo and holds the record as the only nonbinary athlete to have won a gold medal. So far. 

Many of the posts by Hiltz, Team USA and others have been trolled by bigots and ignoramuses who have mistaken them for a transgender woman who was presumed to be male at birth and transitioned genders. Right-wing outlets and anti-trans activist Riley Gaines have commented on their victory and questioned their gender identity and decision to compete against cisgender women. 

But in the spirit of the late Marsha P. Johnson, who famously said the “P” stood for “pay no mind” to the haters, Hiltz shared a photo of a handwritten motivational note to themself, which ends: “I saw a quote online the other week that said, ‘respect everybody, fear nobody,’ and that’s exactly how I’m going to approach this final. I can do this.” 

And they did. 

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Dodgers, Padres, Giants and every MLB team except this one celebrated Pride

Right-wingers react to ‘backlash’ against Rangers: ‘This kind of bullying is unacceptable’

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MLB Pride Logo

ARLINGTON, Texas — Once again, the Texas Rangers opted not to celebrate Pride this month with a dedicated day or night on its 2024 promotion schedule. And once again, the American League West team is the only Major League operation to do so. 

So? Well, this repeated omission by the reigning World Series champs has sparked what one conservative news site calls a “ridiculous backlash.” As the Washington Examiner’s Kimberly Ross wrote this week:

“There is no getting away from these ubiquitous celebrations. Instead of ‘to each his own,’ major league teams are nearly required to give in and perform in an effort to placate the loudest crowds. It’s not good enough to include everyone at all times. You must kowtow or else. This kind of bullying is unacceptable, and it’s worth pushing back against whether you’re a regular citizen or the 2023 World Series champion Texas Rangers.”

But the only evidence of the “backlash” was a balanced report by Schuyler Dixon of the Associated Press that appeared on the website of KSAT-TV in San Antonio, detailing the frustrations of local LGBTQ+ advocates and fans. His report was a fair and straight-forward (no pun intended) report was also posted by the AP under the title: “Why are the Texas Rangers the only MLB team without a Pride Night?” Oh, and the virulently anti-trans British tabloid, the Daily Mail rehashed that same AP piece but added that LGBTQ+ groups were “FURIOUS” (yes, in all caps) without substantiating that claim with a single quote. 

At most, DeeJay Johannessen, the chief executive of the HELP Center, an LGBTQ+ organization based in Tarrant County, where the Rangers play, told the AP he felt “kind of embarrassed.” The Daily Mail’s headline writer was apparently “kind of” clickbaiting. 

“It’s kind of an embarrassment to the city of Arlington that their team is the only one that doesn’t have a Pride Night,” Johannessen said. While also not furious, local advocate Rafael McDonnell said, “It pains me that this remains an issue (after) all these years.”

How painful? McDonnell told the AP he considered not attending the championship parade with his boyfriend when the Rangers celebrated their first World Series championship last fall. Ultimately, he decided to go. So much for “FURIOUS.” 

McDonnell is the communications and advocacy manager for the Resource Center, which is an organization that grew out of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. He added that his group has worked with the Rangers, at their invitation, to help them develop a policy of inclusion, starting about five years ago.

The team has sent employees to volunteer for programs supporting its efforts in advocating for marriage equality and transgender rights.

Although McDonnell said members of the Rangers staff keep in contact with him, he told the AP he can’t recall any conversations with the team since its five-game victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in last year’s World Series. 

“For a long time, I’ve thought that it might be somebody very high up in the organization who is opposed to this for some reason that is not clearly articulated,” McDonnell said. “To say that the Rangers aren’t doing anything for the community, well, they have. But the hill that they are choosing to stake themselves out on is no Pride Night.”

Which stands out because the Rangers did celebrate Mexican heritage during a game earlier this month, and also host nights throughout the season dedicated to other groups as well as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, first responders, teachers and the military. The team also recognizes universities from around the Dallas-Fort Worth area and other parts of the Lone Star State. But not Pride. 

Why? The Rangers issued a statement, very similar to one from 2023. It lists various organizations the team has sponsored and steps it has taken internally to “create a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment for fans and employees.”

“Our longstanding commitment remains the same: To make everyone feel welcome and included in Rangers baseball — in our ballpark, at every game, and in all we do — for both our fans and our employees,” the team said. “We deliver on that promise across our many programs to have a positive impact across our entire community.”

“I think it’s a private organization,” said Rangers fan Will Davis. “And if they don’t want to have it, I don’t think they should be forced to have it.” Davis is from Marble Falls, about 200 miles southwest of the stadium in Central Texas and attended a recent game with his son’s youth baseball team.

“I think if it were something where MLB said, ‘We’re not participating in this,’ but the MLB does participate in it. And the Rangers have chosen not to,” said Rangers fan Misty Lockhart, who lives near told the ballpark. Lockhart told the AP she attends almost three dozen games every season. “I think that’s where I take the bigger issue, is they have actively chosen not to participate in it.”

While Lockhart says she doesn’t see Pride Night as a political issue, she suggested there would be more pressure on the Rangers if their stadium was downtown, in the heart of Dallas County, where the majority of elected officials are Democrats. Tarrant County, home to Arlington, Fort Worth and Global Life Stadium, is generally more conversative, just like the governor, lieutenant governor, legislature, and fans like Will Davis. 

“In something like this, this is a way for people to go as a state,” Davis told the AP. “We don’t want the political stuff shoved down our throats one way or the other, left or right. We’re coming out here to have a good time with friends or family and let it be.”

Unfortunately, some Rangers fans decided they could not “let it be” the one time the team welcomed local LGBTQ+ groups to a game as part of a fundraising event, as it does for other groups. This was in September 2003, two years after the Chicago Cubs hosted what is considered the first-ever Pride game. At that time, Rangers fans raged about the invitation on a website, and showed up to protest outside the stadium before that game. 

The Rangers never extended that invitation again. 

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Haters troll official Olympics Instagram for celebrating gay athlete and boyfriend

“All these people mad cause we’re hotter than they are,” says Australian sport climber Campbell Harrison in response

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Screenshot from Instagram

MELBOURNE, Australia — Olympian Campbell Harrison has already conquered an eating disorder, anxiety, depression and disappointment for skipping the Tokyo Summer Games so he could support his older sister in her battle with cancer. 

So, he’s saying “no wucka’s” (meaning, “no problem” in Aussie lingo) to the bigots, trolls, mongrels and drongos (meaning, “dicks” and “fools,” respectively) who plastered their disapproval in the comments of an Instagram post celebrating him as the first out LGBTQ+ sport climber in Olympic history. 

The post wasn’t even his; the official Olympics Instagram account shared pictures from his qualifying climb from November 2023, and tagged Harrison earlier this week. 

“Celebration kiss for the ages 😘🌈” reads the caption. “After not making it to Tokyo 2020, Australian sport climber Campbell Harrison did not give up and four years later secured a quota spot for the Olympic Games #Paris2024. It was an emotional victory celebrated together with his partner, Justin.”

Harrison, having seen the negative comments multiply, took them in stride with a snappy response that included a tag to his boyfriend, Justin Maire, whose account is private.  

“All these people mad cause we’re hotter than they are 😘,” Harrison wrote. 

Harrison’s mother, Yvette, shared her support: “I could not be more proud of you my beautiful son. You and Justin are such a beautiful couple and we love you both very much. 🏳️‍🌈🙌❤️”

There were plenty of other supportive comments, and haters were called out, too: “I love all the people following the @Olympics page due to the Olympic spirit (among other values), who don’t see the irony of bashing an Olympic athlete because of who they love,” wrote out travel writer and LGBTQ+ rights advocate Mikah Meyer.

The person managing the official Olympics Instagram account was asked to do a better job curating the comments, which were largely vitriolic and cruel. The account posted this plea: “Let’s keep our community positive ❤️ Please ensure your comments are respectful and avoid any language that could be offensive, or harmful to others. We reserve the right to remove comments that do not adhere to this guideline.” 

Out Olympic champion diver Matthew Mitcham commented: “15 years ago I kissed my partner on camera when I won in Beijing 2008. This one post by @olympics has received more hate than I did in my whole career.” 

Today is Harrison’s 28th birthday. He, his boyfriend and his mother recently spoke with Climbing’sHolly Yu Tung Chen. She wrote: 

“Campbell arrived in the world on June 28, 1997, screaming inconsolably. Unlike his three other siblings, who were all ‘peaches and cream,’ said Yvette, baby Campbell was ‘squishy and cuddly, yes—but he had a lot to say from the word go.’

“Campbell started climbing at age 8 when Russell took the children to the Victorian Climbing Centre and noticed Campbell’s immediate vigor. It’s the age-old climber tale: Campbell almost immediately lost interest in the other sports he dabbled in, including swimming, soccer, and track and field. All he wanted to do was climb.”

Harrison told Climbing although he never actually “came out” as gay, he never hid his sexuality, and simply made sure his parents and siblings knew who he was. For example, when he told the family he’d be joining Climbing Cuties, an affinity group for queer climbers, they told him to have fun. On another occasion, Harrison let them know he’d be taking part in a panel for queer climbers, and his parents asked if they could attend. 

As for his boyfriend, Harrison told Climbing they met cute. 

“In the age where most people meet online, we had the classic story of catching each other’s eye from across the room,” said Harrison. Maire told the reporter he recognized Campbell from social media, where the climber does not hide their relationship, and that often results in comments that his posts have “gotten too political.”

“How is that political?” he asked, rhetorically, noting that most of the hateful comments he receives online come from Americans. “Why should I change the way I feel just because of someone else’s perception of me?” he said. 

Last November, the only climber to top the men’s finals route during the IFSC Oceania Qualifier in Melbourne was Harrison. Watching him ascend were his parents and boyfriend, as he clipped the final draw and collapsed inward, his hands covering his face as he was lowered down. He had punched his ticket to Paris with this win. 

Once he was on the ground, Harrison made a beeline to Maire, where they hugged and kissed, as recorded on Instagram.

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‘Deeply disappointing:’ Lia Thomas loses case to compete in Paris

Anti-trans activist Riley Gaines calls it a “victory” and demands NCAA strip trans champion of “every award, title and record”

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Trans All-American swimming champion Lia Thomas will not be allowed to compete at the Olympics in Paris this summer, or any elite women’s competition. (Screenshot/YouTube ESPN)

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — Transgender All-American swimming champion Lia Thomas will not be allowed to compete at the Olympics in Paris this summer, or any elite women’s competition, after a worldwide ban on trans women athletes was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. And for the first time since granting an interview to ESPN in May 2022, Thomas is speaking out, as is her fiercest critic, Riley Gaines

The University of Pennsylvania graduate commented on this week’s ruling in a statement issued through her attorney, saying that the decision should serve as a “call to action for trans women athletes.”

“The CAS decision is deeply disappointing,” Thomas said. “Blanket bans preventing trans women from competing are discriminatory and deprive us of valuable athletic opportunities that are central to our identities. The CAS decision should be seen as a call to action to all trans women athletes to continue to fight for our dignity and human rights.”

On Wednesday, three CAS judges dismissed the athlete’s request for arbitration with World Aquatics, the governing body for swimming organizations around the world, claiming rules regarding transgender competitors introduced two years ago were discriminatory.

Three months after Thomas became the first out trans Division I NCAA champion in March 2022, World Aquatics voted to prohibit transgender women who had been through male puberty from competing in elite meets for cisgender women. Only trans women who had completed their medical transition by the age of 12 were allowed to compete with cisgender women. The organization introduced an “open category” in its 50-meter and 100-meter races across all strokes, which would allow athletes whose gender identity differs from the sex they were presumed to be at birth to compete with anyone else. But they would no longer be allowed to compete with other women who were not trans. 

In asking CAS to overturn the ruling last year, Thomas argued that the guidelines were discriminatory, “invalid and unlawful,” as the Los Angeles Blade reported. But the judges dismissed her claim, stating she hd no standing and is not eligible to compete in elite competitions through World Aquatics or USA Swimming “for the time being,” so the policy does not apply to her.

“She is currently only entitled to compete in USA Swimming events that do not qualify as ‘Elite Events,'” according to the judges. “The panel concludes that she lacks standing to challenge the policy and the operational requirements in the framework of the present proceeding,” said the court in its ruling.

The judges said USA Swimming had no authority “to modify such scope of application” of the world governing body’s rules.

World Aquatics said it welcomed the CAS decision in a case “we believe is a major step forward in our efforts to protect women’s sport.” 

Even had the court ruled in her favor, Thomas is not named on the preliminary entry list for the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, which begin this weekend in Indianapolis ahead of the start of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris next month.

To failed swimmer turned vocal anti-trans inclusion activist and paid shill Riley Gaines, that is “great news.” 

“Great news! Lia Thomas won’t be able to compete in women’s category at the Olympics or any other elite competition. He has just lost his legal battle in Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling,” Gaines posted on her social media Wednesday, misgendering Thomas. “This is a victory for women and girls everywhere.”

But Gaines did not stop there. A few hours later, she shared an article about the ruling from the right-wing tabloid, the New York Post, and threw down a challenge to the NCAA: “Now the @ncaa needs to strip him of every award, title, and record he stole from a deserving female athlete.” 

Other conservative anti-trans media such as The Daily Mail and other outlets also hailed the decision. But above the fray, one voice has consistently stood out in support of Thomas: Her friend, Schuyler Bailar, who became the first trans athlete to compete on a NCAA Division I men’s team when he swam for Harvard. He called the CAS ruling, “devastating.” 

“This is not inclusion. This is textbook discrimination,” Bailar said in a post on Instagram. “And it is a result of the vicious, disgusting, anti-trans and misogynistic rhetoric that has infected this country and the world. Rhetoric that is not based in science but rather in hatred, fueled by power hungry people who do not care truly about women or women’s sports. I’m not sure what is next in this moment — but history will not look back favorably on this decision.” 

The Blade has reached out to Thomas through her representative for comment and did not receive a response as of press time.

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Kenya seeks ban on intersex lowering hormone levels to compete

“The measures shall not require a person to alter biological hormonal composition as a condition to participate in any sporting activity”

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya’s state-funded human rights body does not want intersex athletes in the country to lower their hormone levels as a requirement to compete in any sport.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in a proposal to the National Assembly notes it will ensure non-discrimination and fairness for intersex people in sports.  

The proposal in the Intersex Persons Bill, 2024, is among numerous amendments to existing laws that seek to grant intersex people equal rights after the government in 2019 officially recognized them as a third sex.

According to the bill that would amend Kenya’s Sports Act of 2013, this will require the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry’s Cabinet secretary and the National Council for Intersex Persons, which the measure would create, to develop measures that ensure fairness for sporting intersex people when enacted.            

“The measures shall not require a person to alter their biological hormonal composition as a condition to participating in any sporting activity or program,” reads the bill. 

Although the measures would apply nationally, they would contradict the World Athletics Council’s 2018 regulations that similarly bar female transgender athletes from participating in international competitions, such as the Olympic Games. Intersex Kenyan athletes have to abide by these rules at the global level.       

The World Athletics through the regulations noted trans women who naturally have higher levels of testosterone compared to ordinary women have to undergo medication or surgery to lower their testosterone levels as a condition before competing in races of between 400 meters and a mile. Kenya’s National Olympic Committee supports these rules.

Some top female trans athletes barred from competing in the Olympic events from the World Athletics regulations due to their high natural testosterone levels include Margaret Wambui of Kenya, Caster Semenya of South Africa, Aminatou Seyni of Niger and and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi.

The trans athletes opposed the World Athletics regulations with Semenya challenging them in court, but lost the case, even though the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2019 criticized the rules. UNHCR cautioned sports bodies not to “force, coerce or otherwise pressure women and girl athletes into undergoing unnecessary, humiliating and harmful medical procedures.” 

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Deputy Director Veronica Mwangi, who spoke with the Washington Blade about the bill’s controversial proposal, said Kenya, which is the only African country to recognize intersex people as a third sex, has started the conversation with a “bigger picture” for the international sporting bodies to create an alternative competition for them to exploit their talents without reducing their hormonal levels or interfering with their biological characteristics as the condition before competing.      

“As KNCHR, we are very clear that we cannot afford to continue discriminating and marginalizing persons who are born as intersex, but rather we can promote conversations of inclusivity where the Semenya of South Africa, an equivalent of Semenya in Uganda and an equivalent in the U.S. or Kenya can have a special sporting event like the Paralympics for persons living with disabilities,” Mwangi said. 

She also questioned the fairness of World Athletics and other international sporting bodies in demanding “the Semenyas or talented intersex persons” to undergo hormonal therapy which then affects the athletes’ well-being after interfering with their biological anatomy.   

“These governing sporting bodies should not come back to us that it is the intersex persons to carry the blame,” Mwangi said. “It is not the responsibility of the intersex (person) but they are duty-bearers and should think of mechanisms to grow their talents and not find an easy way out of demanding to change who they are.” 

Mwangi disclosed the proposal is driven by KNCHR’s special task force report that found most intersex school children are talented and perform well in sports. 

Kenya’s Intersex Persons Implementation Coordination Committee is already identifying talented intersex people, including those in schools, to support their growth in sports. Kenya’s 2019 Census found there are 1,524 intersex people in the country.

Other amendments to the Intersex Persons Bill include an employment provision that would cap an intersex person’s monthly income tax at 25 percent of wages, compared to other Kenyans whose maximum taxable income stands at 35 percent, depending on one’s monthly total earnings.  

“Capping the income tax or wages for intersex persons at 25 percent is a tax consideration in the form of an affirmative action to uplift them in economic development and it is similar to that of persons living with disability who are tax exempted as marginalized groups,” Mwangi said.

The bill further seeks to amend the Health Act for any parent with an intersex child born at home to report the birth at the nearest government administration office or risk a fine of not more than $1,000 or a six-month prison term, or both, after being found guilty of concealing an intersex child’s identity.

The proposed law, moreover, seeks to create the National Council for Intersex Persons, whose mandates would include the creation of initiatives and programs to prevent discrimination against intersex people, creating a database for all intersex people and accrediting the group for employment purposes.

 

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NFL kicker Harrison Butker doubles down on his extremist remarks

‘Unapologetic’ Catholic he said then compared himself to saints and martyrs, claims to be victim of hate in new speech

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Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaking at a fundraising gala in support of Regina Caeli Academy May 24, 2024. (Screenshot/YouTube Daily Wire)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In his first public comments since delivering a controversial commencement address, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker doubled-down on his extremist right-wing remarks that were widely criticized for misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and disrespect toward the president of the United States. 

Referencing the theme of Friday night’s fundraising gala in support of Regina Caeli Academy — “Courage Under Fire” — Butker vowed that the “shocking level of hate” he had received will not deter him from being “unapologetic” about his Roman Catholic faith.

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Butker said, as first reported by the anti-LGBTQ+ right wing outlet, the Daily Wire. “Over the past few days, my beliefs, or what people think I believe, have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe.”

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, the three-time Super Bowl champion’s address to a private, Catholic-run liberal arts college in Kansas on May 11 has sparked outrage from women, advocates and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, football fans and even Catholic nuns. A petition on Change.org demanding the Chiefs fire Butker has more than 226,000 signatures as of press time. 

But Butker has also found support from prominent Chiefs teammates Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelcie, who each defended his right to his opinions while distancing themselves from his words. Butker noted that support from teammates Friday night: “As the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion,” Butker said.

The NFL player said that in the face of adversity, he put his trust in “the Lord’s Providence and… the Holy Ghost,” to applause from the crowd. He compared the backlash he’s experienced in the past two weeks to the trials of medieval martyrs and ancient saints who faced lions, saying: “In reality, any courage I’ve shown will lead to some small suffering, and it will lead to some people maybe never liking me, but that could be God’s will.”

Butker’s number 7 jersey is reportedly the most popular men’s clothing item on NFL.com. Even though he drew criticism for suggesting female-identified graduates consider being a “homemaker” over pursuing a career, women’s jerseys are sold out.

“It cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker,” Butker said during the commencement speech he delivered at Benedictine College, as the Blade reported. His other remarks compared LGBTQ+ Pride month events to biblical “deadly sins,” denounced “dangerous gender ideologies” and the “diabolical lies told to women,” and spoke out against abortion, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, as well as President Joe Biden. 

Butker, 28, criticized Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned his devotion to Roman Catholicism, calling him “delusional.” Speaking directly to the men in the audience, the athlete advised them to “be unapologetic in your masculinity,” and to “fight against the cultural emasculation of men.”

“In my seven years in the NFL, I’ve become familiar with positive and negative comments,” Butker said in Nashville Friday. “But the majority of them revolve around my performance on the field. But, as to be expected, the more I’ve talked about what I value most, which is my Catholic faith, the more polarizing I’ve become. It’s a decision I’ve consciously made, and one I do not regret at all.”


The event also featured speeches by Daily Wire hosts Matt Walsh and Michael Knowles, and was sponsored by Bentkey, The Daily Wire’s kids entertainment streaming service, according to the Daily Wire.

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Trans high school athlete booed at Oregon state track meet

She’s been targeted by some of the biggest names in transphobic circles as well as the usual band of anti-trans trolls across social media

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Aayden Gallagher, a sophomore at Portland's McDaniel High School shown here as she won the 6A 200-meter state title for Oregon girls. (Screenshot/YouTube)

EUGENE, Ore. — Aayden Gallagher is a girl. She’s also a sophomore at Portland’s McDaniel High School and happens to be transgender. For that, the 10th grader was booed by grown adults Saturday, because she was the fastest runner to cross a finish line in one event at a state championship track meet. Those boos can be heard in videos that have since gone viral. 

Ever since, she’s been targeted by some of the biggest names in transphobic circles as well as the usual band of anti-trans trolls across social media. 

Gallagher was one of eight girls competing in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A 200-meter final at her state’s championship meet at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. She won that race by two-tenths of a second, finishing at 23.82 seconds, with Roosevelt High School sophomore Aster Jones closely behind at 24.02. 

Last month, it was Jones who finished first and Gallagher second, at the Sherwood Need for Speed Classic. But coming in second doesn’t generate outrage, even when Gallagher won the silver in the 400 on Saturday. 

The crowd is heard booing again in videos posted online showing Gallagher receiving her gold medal. 

Those videos were shared with venom by anti-trans athlete activist and failed former college swimmer Riley Gaines. As the Los Angeles Blade has reported, Gaines is a paid shill for the anti-inclusion organization, Independent Women’s Forum and now heads The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, an anti-LGBTQ+ right-wing training center for conservative youth in Arlington, Va. 

The booing clips were also spread by Chaya Raichik, the social media menace behind the account “Libs of TikTok.” The Southern Poverty Law Center designates Raichik as a propagandist who “mobilizes right-wing extremist groups in violent attacks against” against LGBTQ+ people and institutions.

Amplifying Gaines and other mudslinging haters are reporters from every corner of the media, including People magazine and the Christian Post, which went so far as to misgender Gallagher and, for no apparent reason, deadname out transgender NCAA champion swimmer Lia Thomas. 

Instagram is rife with social media posts from around the world denouncing Gallagher for “destroying women’s sports” by barely winning one race. 

Aayden Gallagher, a sophomore at Portland’s McDaniel High School was the fastest runner to cross a finish line in one event at the state championship track meet.
(Screenshot/YouTube)

The bottom line, however, is that Gallagher competed according to the rules. She did not cheat; Oregon’s policy, as dictated in the OSAA Handbook, clearly states that students can compete on the athletic team that aligns with their self-declared gender identity, without the need for medical intervention. The policy “allows students to participate for the athletic or activity program of their consistently asserted gender identity while providing a fair and safe environment for all students.” It does not require that trans student-athletes undergo transition-related medical treatment prior to competing.

That policy matches Connecticut’s Interscholastic Athletic Conference guidelines on transgender participation, which are the target of an ongoing federal lawsuit brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing cisgender student-athletes. 

Of course, Gallagher did get her flowers, too, not just thorns. Genderqueer nonbinary pansexual biologist, Dr. Juniper Simonis saluted her for being “a strong, fast student-athlete.” 

Best of all, Oregonian sports columnist Bill Oram called out the “bad-faith internet cretins who are exploiting her identity for a belt-notch in the culture wars,” while conceding in an op-ed, “I get it if parents are mad,” and “I do not know what the answer is.”

“But what I do know, and I’m confident saying here, is that judgment cannot be handed down by a mob of people who are limited to the binary device of cheers and boos… The presence of a trans athlete led to additional security during the medal presentation. Law enforcement wasn’t there to protect the rest of the competitors from the trans athlete. No, it was there to protect the athlete from adults who were so spun up by her existence and her athletic excellence that they might resort to violence.

“Nobody deserves that. Certainly not a child.”

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Riley Gaines is fundraising to ‘defend the truth’ by spreading lies

The fifth-place swimmer-turned-activist hosts a weekly podcast for the right wing, anti-LGBTQ+ sports website Outkick

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Riley Gaines giving a speech during a recent event of The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Va. (Screenshot/YouTube- The Leadership Institute)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two years after Riley Gaines swam at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, slower than four other cisgender women and no faster than a transgender woman, the former University of Kentucky graduate is making bank off her ignominious fifth-place finish. 

Gaines already hosts a weekly podcast for the right wing, anti-LGBTQ+ sports website Outkick and is a paid shill for the anti-inclusion organization, Independent Women’s Forum. Now, the 24-year-old is heading up The Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, an organization described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “right-wing… home to a number of prominent politicians and activists on the American right.” It was founded by Morton C. Blackwell in 1979 and is based in Arlington, Va. 

As The Nation reported in 2022, Blackwell was the youth director for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. In its 45-years of existence, his nonprofit institute has been “funneling right-wing students from campus groups into the conservative machine,” with alumni that includes former Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and ‘conservative provocateur’ Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe. The institute claims that Blackwell has likely “trained more political activists than any other conservative”—more than 200,000—with over 1,700 conservative clubs and newspapers on campuses nationwide.

And now, Riley Gaines is the institute’s new poster child. 

“Join my team and help protect women, free speech, and common sense,” says the website promoting Gaines’ new platform. “My team of Ambassadors and I are building a movement of students, athletes, and concerned citizens who are fed up with the attack on our freedoms and rights — and who dare to defy the dangerous gender ideology that’s spreading rampant and unchecked throughout society.”

“Through the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, Riley will create powerful leaders to combat radical leftist ideology in their schools, their communities, and nationwide,” says on a page soliciting contact information to “get exclusive updates from Riley.” 

A page offering a way to request Gaines’ “help” makes this bold statement: “Riley is building an army of patriotic women, men, students, athletes, parents — and patriots who stand up for the truth — to combat radical transgender ideology before it takes over America.”

Gaines, who has made frequent appearances on right-wing propaganda programs on cable television and traveled the country touring campuses to promote both transphobia and her book, Swimming Against the Current, has recently ditched the rant that made her famous. That’s the one she’s trotted out ever since tying with transgender national champion swimmer Lia Thomas in March 2022: Gaines has repeated ad infinitum how upsetting it was to leave Atlanta without a trophy. 

The truth is, NCAA officials had only one fifth place trophy, so they handed Gaines the sixth place trophy to hold for photographs, and promised to send hers by mail. To be clear, there was no sixth place finisher; USC’s Laticia Transom finished seventh. And as Swimming World magazine reported in 2022, “Thomas is listed ahead of Gaines on the official results page, which indicates that Thomas touched ahead of Gaines by less than one hundredth” of a second. 

“Ok that’s fine, she worked hard, just like I worked hard, there’s no question there,” Gaines told the conservative outlet Daily Wire in 2022, when she was first interviewed about this. “But can I ask why she gets the fifth-place trophy before I do? Especially last night, she just won the national title.”

While Gaines has endlessly repeated her outrage about the trophy in speaking engagements and on television, she has apparently decided to not repeat something she said about Thomas in her interview with the right-wing outlet: 

“I am in full support of her and full support of her transition and her swimming career and everything like that,” insisted Gaines, “because there’s no doubt that she works hard too, but she’s just abiding by the rules that the NCAA put in place, and that’s the issue.”

Now, two years later, Gaines deadnames Thomas and misgenders him, calling him a man who “stole top spots from me and my fellow female athletes.” 

That’s an excerpt from an email the institute sent to conservatives on May 14, which opens with Gaines’ latest plea for cash based on apparent lies and misstatements. 

“It was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had,” the email begins. “I had just given a speech when agitators stormed the room.” She’s regaling readers with her account of what happened during her Turning Point USA-sponsored appearance at San Francisco State University in April 2023. 

“A man — wearing a woman’s dress — punched me twice. Then I spent three hours barricaded in a classroom while leftist college students just outside the door yelled the most obscene things at me, including, “f*cking transphobic b*tch!” All because I said things like… men are men — and men are not women… there are only two sexes… men have no business being in women’s locker rooms and playing in women’s sports.” 

Gaines shared video of this on social media that shows, well, a not very warm welcome at SFSU, but no evidence of her claims of being assaulted and held captive.

Turns out, the university police didn’t see anything, either, and closed the case. “UPD conducted an investigation and after interviewing involved parties and reviewing available video footage found that claims of crimes committed were unfounded,” wrote UPD in an email, as reported by a student newspaper, the Golden Gate Express.

Given that she lacks any evidence to support her pitch for funding, Gaines shifts her plea to appeal to “conservative principles:”

“I write to you because I know you’re rational. And more than that, you’re an American who believes in conservative principles.

“You love our country.

“And you understand that conservative principles have guided America — a country that has done the most good of any country,. anywhere.

“But leftists today not only challenge those basic truths, they want to blow up the very foundations of our country and construct something completely different.

“They’re radically changing the answer to the question “What is a woman?” to the point that if you say a man cannot be a woman, you will pay for it dearly.

“This issue is at the very core of what it means to be an American. If you and I do not have the right to free speech — and the ability to speak basic, commonsense truths – – then we have lost our country.”

So, that’s what Gaines is doing two years after finishing fifth. Canadian Taylor Ruck won that competition as a student from Stanford in 2022, and this summer, the four-time Olympic medalist is headed to Paris with Team Canada. Immediately after competing in Atlanta, neither Thomas nor Gaines talked to the reporters covering the championship. But Ruck did. 

As the Los Angeles Blade reported, I asked Ruck her thoughts on Thomas. She said she heard “the chatter” about her, but was focused only on her own performance and apparently didn’t consider it unfair for Thomas to compete. “Competition is competition,” said Ruck, who added that she relished the challenge Thomas represented. “I was excited to race against someone who swims so fast.”

Isabel Ivey finished second in 2022, representing the University of California Berkeley. This past March, she was part of the University of Florida’s championship team in the 800 Freestyle Relay, the school’s first national title since 2010, as Swimming World Magazine reported.

Kelly Pash of the University of Texas came in third ahead of Gaines and Thomas in 2022, and finished second in this year’s 200 fly championship final at the NCAA Championships in March, according to Big12sports.com

And the fourth best swimmer that day in March 2022 was Stanford’s Lillie Nordmann, . She’s now the captain of the swim team, a junior, and an activist. Not against transgender inclusion, but for sustainability. 
“I’ve always been very passionate about the environment and trying to reduce my carbon footprint,” Nordmann told the Stanford Daily school newspaper last month. “I also wanted to foster a community where student athletes could collaborate.”

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