College swimmer Riley Gaines has responded to claims that she tried to “dodge a kiss” from former President Donald Trump during a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) event in Dallas.
A former college swimmer at the University of Kentucky, Gaines made headlines after she spoke against transgender athletes, or biological males, competing in women’s sports. A video appeared to show Trump introducing Gaines at the CPAC stage and approaching her before he pulled away.
“In no way, shape, or form did I ‘dodge a kiss’ from Trump nor was I uncomfortable on that stage with him at any point in time,” Gaines wrote on an Instagram post Monday that included a photo of her and Trump. “I slightly turned my head so I could hear what he was saying to me. Proof that not everything you read is factual. But keep clutching at straws, it’s almost comical.”
The athlete added that it was “an honor” to share the stage with Trump at the event, which was held Saturday.
And regarding whether biological males should compete in female sports, Gaines stated, “I truly can’t even believe this is a topic for debate. It’s simple. Women should not be forced to share a changing space & compete against males with biological advantages that will never be completely diminished regardless of hormones taken.”
View this post on Instagram
Gaines had competed against Lia Thomas, who is a transgender biological male, in the 200 freestyle at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships in March.
Thomas, 22, from the University of Pennsylvania, became the first openly transgender athlete to win a Division I national NCAA title in a women’s swimming race.
Thomas was a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer for the men’s team and competed for three years before starting hormone replacement therapy in 2019. After competing against females since the start of 2021, the transgender athlete set new records in the women’s competitions for the university and the Ivy League.
The case has garnered widespread controversy and debate about transgender participation in sports. Critics say biological males shouldn’t be allowed to compete against females, but others claim that Thomas has no competitive advantage.
Amid the controversy, the international governing body for swimming in mid-June moved to restrict biological males from competing in female sports.
In a notice on June 19, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) said it will only allow biological male swimmers to compete in women’s events if they have not experienced male puberty and have had puberty suppressed before age 12. They would also have to “continuously [maintain] their testosterone levels in serum (or plasma) below” a certain level.
Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.