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Opponent of transgender women in sports will headline Reynolds fundraiser


Opponent of transgender women in sports will headline Reynolds fundraiser

Sep 19, 2023 | 4:18 pm ET
By Robin Opsahl
Opponent of transgender women in sports will headline Reynolds fundraiser
Riley Gaines was one of three former student athletes to speak against allowing transgender women to compete in women's sports during a news conference in Washington, D.C. Thursday, June 22. (Photo via the Independent Women's Network livestream)

Riley Gaines, a former woman student athlete who rose to prominence for opposing transgender women competing in women’s sports, will headline Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds annual Harvest Fest fundraiser in October.

Gaines, who was on the University of Kentucky swim team, tied for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association Swim Championships with Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania. Since that event, Gaines has gained national attention for criticizing the NCAA’s decision to allow transgender women to compete in women’s sports.

Gaines argues that transgender women, even those who medically transition using hormones, retain a biological advantage in athletic competitions against cisgender women, and should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports.

Activists like Gaines and other women athletes who oppose transgender athletes in women’s sports have frequently advocated for measures passed in recent years by conservative state lawmakers restricting transgender athletes’ ability to play in the sport of their gender identity. In 2002, Iowa banned transgender student athletes from participating in women’s sports at Iowa schools, colleges and universities.

Reynolds said in a news release that she was “inspired” by Gaines’ activism in opposing transgender athletes.

“Riley is fighting on the front lines of the most important women’s issue of our time,” Reynolds said. “She is not afraid to stand up for common sense and declare that biological men do not belong in women’s sports.”

LGBTQ advocates and Democrats said laws targeting transgender student athletes is a form of discrimination, and that such bans pave the way for further action targeting transgender people.

During the 2023 legislative session, Reynolds signed into law measures focused on gender identity and transgender youth, such as prohibiting transgender minors from accessing gender-related health care and from using school bathrooms and locker rooms not corresponding with their gender at birth. Another new law bans curriculum and material involving “gender identity” at Iowa schools for K-6 students, and requires parents be notified if their child requests the use of different name or pronouns than assigned at birth.

Gaines has participated in several events with Republicans talking about women’s sports, including one with Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. The former student athlete has also endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

In the fundraiser news release, Gaines praised Reynolds’ action on transgender issues, saying the governor “defended children from irreversible gender transition surgeries, stood alongside parents, and proudly defended women’s sports.”

“Gov. Kim Reynolds has been a leading voice in pushing back against the radical left’s gender ideology,” Gaines said in the news release. “I cannot wait to celebrate her incredible record as Iowa’s governor.”

Reynolds’ sixth annual Harvest Fest fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Tickets and details can be found on Reynolds’ campaign website.