Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines slammed ESPN for honoring Lia Thomas, a biological male, during a women’s history month segment.
“Lia Thomas is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title,” Gaines said on Twitter in response to the ESPN clip. “He is an arrogant, cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman. The NCAA is responsible.”
Gaines added that if she worked at ESPN, she would walk out. She ended her post with “#boycottESPN.”
“If I was a woman working at ESPN, I would walk out. You’re spineless @espn #boycottESPN,” Gaines wrote.
Lia Thomas is not a brave, courageous woman who EARNED a national title. He is an arrogant, cheat who STOLE a national title from a hardworking, deserving woman. The @ncaa is responsible.— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) March 26, 2023
If I was a woman working at ESPN, I would walk out. You’re spineless @espn #boycottESPN https://t.co/DF3n5RWsmV
Last year, Thomas sparked a fiery debate over transgender men competing in women’s sports when he became the first transgender athlete to win a Division I NCAA title.
Due to his unfair biological advantage, Thomas crushed Gaines and the other women in the competition and won the national championship for the 500 freestyle.
Thomas defended competing on the women’s team during the ESPN segment and told the audience that being transgender is “not a choice.”
“Being trans is not a choice. I didn’t have any other choice, because not transitioning was not leading me anywhere,” Thomas said.
The segment portrayed Thomas as a trailblazer who made history despite opposition. However, many people agree with Gaines’ assessment that Thomas stole the title from a female athlete.
For Thomas, it seems his personal happiness is more important than the fairness of women’s sports.
“People will say, ‘Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage so she could win.’ I transitioned to be happy,” Thomas told ESPN’s audience.