Riley Gaines slams cis female cyclist as ‘traitor to women’ after sharing support for trans competitors

Former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines

Former college swimming star Riley Gaines has slammed a female cyclist as a “traitor to women” after she shared her support for her trans competitors. 

Kristen Chalmers, a cisgender cyclist, placed third at a cycling championship in Illinois on 3 December, with two trans athletes, Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson, placing first and second, prompting a wave of anti-trans outrage. 

Chalmers quickly called out “ridiculous” anti-trans criticism levelled at her competitors, writing an open letter – alongside other cisgender women who competed at the event – claiming “inclusion makes our sport and community stronger”. 

“We refuse to be falsely presented as victims in a manufactured controversy driven to further alienate and marginalize those most vulnerable within our community, in service of rampant and harmful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation,” the letter read.

“We speak for ourselves: Inclusion makes our sport and community stronger. Everyone is welcome here. Trans women are women.”

Chalmers added in a statement to NBC that she “had a great race”, and it is “ridiculous to say my life has been ruined” by placing third. 

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Riley Gaines, who has fiercely criticised trans women taking part in women’s sports, and has even claimed trans women have an advantage in chess, slammed Chalmers’ stance, however, claiming she is “applauding her own erasure” by supporting her trans competitors. 

Gaines, host of OutKick’s Gaines For Girls podcast, told OutKick: “Chalmers may claim she’s fine losing to men, but female athletes like her don’t have the right to willingly surrender the integrity of competition for everyone.

“The majority of female athletes believe women deserve respect and fair competition. She is a traitor to ethical and fair sport. And she’s a traitor to women.”

She added in a tweet: “Women expediting their own erasure. You can’t make it up.”

After the anti-trans criticism surrounding the race, event organiser Chicago CrossCup explained that it followed USA Cycling’s transgender athlete participation policies.

“Discrimination or harassment of any kind on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification… or any other stupid idea someone comes up with to belittle others will not be tolerated at CCC events and may result in disqualification and/or being asked to leave,” its website reportedly read.

This year, the world’s cycling governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), updated its policy to restrict trans athletes, with the new policy stating all trans female athletes who started puberty before their transition are banned from competing in women’s races. 

USA Cycling also updated its rules, creating two separate categories for trans athletes.

The restrictions regarding trans athletes comes as 24 US states have currently adopted new laws to restrict trans youth from participating on the sports team that matches their gender.

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