A former University of Kentucky swimmer, Riley Gaines, has advocated for the NCAA to have separate locker rooms for female swimmers competing against transgender athletes. An opinion she has held since Lia Thomas, whose real name is William Thomas, was allowed the same privileges as female athletes. This week, she reiterated an allegation while campaigning for the NCAA to provide different locker rooms for female and transgender female swimmers.
According to Gaines, a 12-time All-American, she and her teammates were exposed to Thomas’ “male genitalia” in the locker room following a meet.
“We were not forewarned beforehand that we would be sharing a locker room with Lia,” Gaines told American Reports. “We did not give our consent. They did not ask for our consent, but in that locker room, we turned around, and a 6-foot-4 biological man was dropping his pants and watching us undress, and we were exposed to male genitalia.”
“That, to me, was worse than the competition piece,” Gaines said of her locker room allegation. “Not even probably a year, two years ago, this would have been considered some form of sexual assault, voyeurism. But now not even are they just allowing it to happen, it’s almost as if these large organizations are encouraging it to happen.”
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This isn’t the first time, Gaines claimed Thomas exposed himself to other female athletes. Back in September 2022, she wrote in an op-ed at Fox News, “Under Title IX, women are entitled to their own locker rooms so that we can be vulnerable and change in private.”
She elaborated, “Yet at the NCAA Championships, I saw a 6’4″ biological male exposing male parts in our women’s locker room. To be perfectly clear, the anatomy I and many other women were forced to view, confirms Thomas is a male.”
Thomas pursued higher education at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in May 2022.
During college, Thomas competed on both the men’s and women’s swim teams, making history in March 2022 as the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship in any sport after taking first place in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event.
When it was announced that transgender athletes only have to comply with rules set forth under a 2010 policy, many were outraged. Under this policy, it’s required that male-to-female transgender athletes have less than ten nanomoles per liter of testosterone in their blood.
Limited research has been conducted on the athletic performance of transgender individuals, especially at the elite level. However, some studies were published leading up to the Olympic Games. In these studies, scientists discovered that even with suppressed testosterone, biological men who transitioned were advantageous compared to their female counterparts.
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According to the MacDonald Laurier Institute’s Fair, “for trans women who have successfully suppressed testosterone for 12 months, the extent of muscle/strength loss is only an approximate (and modest) -5% after 12 months,” the authors said.
“Testosterone suppression does not remove the athletic advantage acquired under high testosterone conditions at puberty, while the male musculoskeletal advantage is retained.”
Another study by Dr. Timothy Roberts and colleagues at the University of Missouri-Kansas City examined the athletic performance of US military personnel who underwent gender transition while in service.
The study found that after one year of hormone therapy, which typically involves reducing testosterone levels and increasing estrogen, transgender women continued to have an advantage over women. For example, after two years, transgender women maintained a 12% faster running speed.
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