Riley Gaines urges people to stop saying 'biological woman' amid women's sports debate

Gallatin, Tennessee's American former competitive swimmer Riley Gaines, who competed for the University of Kentucky NCAA swim team, delivers an address to a crowd about the impact of trans men performing in women's sports at the Pray Vote Stand Summit in Washington D.C. on Sept. 15, 2023 at the Omini Shoreham Hotel. | The Christian Post/Nicole Alcindor

WASHINGTON — A female athlete is urging people to stop using the term “biological woman” in the ongoing debate about the presence of trans-identified males in women’s sports that she characterizes as “spiritual warfare.” 

Riley Gaines, a former college swimmer who has become an outspoken critic of policies allowing trans-identified males to compete on women’s sports teams, addressed the crowd at the Family Research Council’s Pray, Vote, Stand Summit last week.

She recounted the story of how her career as a collegiate women’s swimmer was turned upside down when a trans-identified male athlete began competing on the women’s swimming team at the University of Pennsylvania after competing on the men’s swimming team for three years.

Lia Thomas, the trans-identified athlete, faced off against Gaines, a student at the University of Kentucky, at a swimming tournament last year. While the two tied for fifth place, National Collegiate Athletic Association officials told Gaines that Thomas had to pose for the picture with the fifth-place trophy. In her remarks Friday, Gaines lamented the “photo op” in addition to the fact that she and other female swimmers had to undress in a locker room with Thomas, who has male genitalia. 

“As a Christian myself, I know why this is happening,” she said. “It’s entirely spiritual warfare. It really is no longer a battle of right versus wrong or good versus bad. It’s moral versus evil.” 

Gaines identified permitting trans-identified males to compete in women’s sports as an example of “denying objective truth,” specifically the “most basic of truths” of “man and woman” as “the essence of humanity.” She likened having to deny such a basic truth to an expectation to refute the idea that “the sky is blue.”

Additionally, Gaines took issue with the fact that female athletes and other opponents of allowing trans-identified males to compete in women’s sports have begun using the term “biological women.” After recalling how she thought she “had to make the distinction,” Gaines proclaimed, “we have to stop with that.”

“We cannot refer to ourselves as biological anything. That’s admitting that there’s an unbiological alternative and there’s not. There is man and there is woman. There is male and there is female,” she asserted as the crowd erupted into applause. “There is girl and there is boy and there is mother and there is father. … This idea that we can change what God created us to be is beyond absurd.”

Toward the end of her remarks, Gaines stressed the importance of men working to “fulfill their biblical role, which is to protect and provide,” by standing up for the women in their lives who find themselves forced to compete against or share intimate spaces with trans-identified males. She brought up the adage, “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times.” 

Gaines pointed to the 1940s when the United States was engulfed in World War II, as “the last time we had a society full of strong men.” According to Gaines, “Men were lying about their age to enlist in the draft, and now we have men lying about their sex to get into women’s sports.”

“It’s this crazy juxtaposition, but I think it proves this cycle that I’m talking about,” she added. “We can only hope that these hard times garner strong men.”

Gaines identified the present state of the U.S. as the time in the cycle where weak men have created hard times. She concluded her speech by expressing concern about the “changing of the language” in order to advance a narrative “denying truth.” She specifically condemned the categorization of women as “egg producers.” 

The activist also listed “the silencing, the denying of objective truth and biological realty and biblical truth,” as well as “the breakdown of family, the breakdown of faith, the breakdown of our freedom such as the freedom of speech” as examples of “textbook Marxism.” She warned that “we’re step-by-step going in that direction” in a “downward spiral” that amounts to a “slippery slope.”

The experiences of Gaines and other female athletes competing against trans-identified males as well as the biological advantages males have over females in athletics have prompted 23 states to pass laws requiring athletes to compete on sports teams that align with their biological sex as opposed to their stated gender identity.

The states that have enacted such measures are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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