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WATCH: Riley Gaines accuses Lia Thomas of mansplaining

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines says feminism is not a fluid term.

“The original meaning of what it means to be a feminist is to uphold, respect, honour, embrace, and celebrate women on our own physical ceilings, our own uniqueness,” said Gaines at a Wednesday hearing.

“That term has not changed.”The video starts off with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Missouri) saying former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas called out certain female athletes for using feminism to push transphobic beliefs.

“Meaning you advocating for women, women’s rights, is actually just a cover for transphobia,” said Hawley.


“Do you want to respond to that?”

Gaines said Thomas was wrong for accusing her of transphobia.

“And what this really is is a male mansplaining what it is to be a feminist, which I honestly think is pretty ironic and something we’ve seen before,” she said. Thomas is a transgender woman athlete who competed on U of P’s men’s swim team from 2017 to 2020 and on the women’s team from 2021 to 2022.

She became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship in any sport after coming in first in the women’s 500-yard freestyle event in 2022.

Her involvement in swimming became part of the public debate about transgender women in sports.

Gaines expressed her disappointment with Adidas for using male models to promote a women’s swimsuit collection on May 17. “They could have at least said the suit is ‘unisex,’ but they didn’t because it’s about erasing women,” she said.

“Ever wondered why we hardly see this go the other way?”

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