Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential contender in the 2024 presidential race, called out a biological male swimmer who competed in and won the women’s NCAA championships against his female competitors in 2022.
“It is wrong to have a swimmer compete for three years on the men’s swim team, switch to the women’s team, and then win the women’s national championship,” the Florida governor said while speaking at Liberty University Friday. “That is a fraud. That is wrong.”
Though he did not mention the swimmer by name, DeSantis was apparently referring to Lia Thomas, the biological male who tied with 12-time All-American female swimmer Riley Gaines in the 200-yard NCAA championships in March 2022.
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines react after finishing tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18th, 2022 at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Georgia. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
DeSantis’ comment come just days after Gaines, an outspoken advocate of preventing female-identifying biological males from competing in women’s athletics, was “violently accosted, shouted at, physically assaulted, and barricaded in a room by protestors” after speaking to students at San Francisco State University.
The incident sparked immediate outrage from GOP leaders who are seeking to prevent biological males from competing in athletics against women. “It is stunning that in America in 2023, it is acceptable for biological male students to violently assault a woman for standing up for women’s rights,” Gaines’ agent said after the assault.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) speaks during a convocation at Liberty University’s Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va., on Friday, April 14, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) (Tom Williams)
After Gaines revealed that she had been “verbally and physically assaulted” by protestors at the school, SFSU President Lynn Mahoney hit back with claims that the event had been “deeply traumatic” for members of the trans community.
“Last Thursday, Turning Point USA hosted an event on campus that advocated for the exclusion of trans people and athletics. The event was deeply traumatic for many in our trans and LGBTQ+ communities, and the speaker’s message outraged many members of the SF State community,” Mahoney wrote in a letter to the campus community, according to KRON4. Gaines has since defended her speech as having been peaceful.
SEC champion swimmer Riley Gaines was “assaulted” after giving a speech to students about her opposition to biological men competing in women’s sports. (Go Nakamura)
In January 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that students should play on sports teams and use bathrooms based on their gender identity rather than their biological sex.
In response, House Republicans introduced the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” to prevent biological males from competing in female athletics in schools across the nation.
The bill, which seeks to define “sex” in sports as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” is expected to reach the House for a vote next week.
Fox News’ Kyle Morris and Scott Thomas contributed to this report.