Meet Riley

Over the last year, I’ve been honored to fight with everything I have to save women’s sports.  Now, through the Riley Gaines Center, you and I have the opportunity to build a movement to stand up for women’s sports and common-sense American values.

Will you join me today and stand for truth?

I never expected to be here. In fact, I thought I’d be in dental school right now, not fighting for what used to be considered common sense and basic freedoms.

But in my senior year, as I approached the end of my collegiate swimming career at the University of Kentucky, the trajectory of my life changed. My teammates, competitors, and I had trained for our entire lives to compete against each other at the highest level. But at the 2022 Women’s NCAA Swimming Championships, we were blindsided.

There was a new swimmer, Lia Thomas, who swooped in out of nowhere and broke record after record. It didn’t take long for us to realize that Lia Thomas was formerly Will Thomas. He swam for three years on the men’s team at University of Pennsylvania where he was mediocre at best, before switching to the women’s team his senior year. We spent our entire lives training to be the best in women’s sports, just to have to compete against a man – and be told to celebrate it.

I watched him steal trophies from girls I’d known my whole life. Girls who lived and breathed their sport since they were kids, just like I did. Girls who had titles, roster spots, and places on the podium unfairly taken from them like it was nothing.

On top of the unfair competition, we were also forced to share a locker room with Thomas. We weren’t even forewarned that we would be forced to undress in front of a 6’4” fully intact, 22-year-old male. As if that weren’t enough, we were effectively silenced by our universities with threats and intimidation.

I thought, “Surely someone will see how unjust this is and put a stop to it. Surely a coach, an official, someone with political power, or a parent, will say something.” Looking back, I realize how naive I was to think that.

That’s when it hit me. How could we as female athletes expect someone to stick up for us if we weren’t even willing to stand up for ourselves? So that’s exactly what I did. I spoke out loudly, advocating for the protection of our rights as women to privacy, safety, and equal opportunity. I couldn’t sit by and let other women and girls have their accomplishments erased and their safety put at risk.

I’m not anti-trans. I’m pro-woman. 

Then I started speaking on college campuses, thanks to a terrific organization called the Leadership Institute that wants to make sure my message is heard. At schools across the country, I tell my story and defend basic truths, common sense, and women. It shouldn’t be controversial to say there are only two sexes, you can’t change your sex, and each sex is deserving of equal opportunities.

I’ve faced extreme resistance. Protesters consistently try to shout me down. University administrators try to cancel my speaking events. At San Francisco State University, I was physically assaulted by an angry mob, locked in a classroom, and held for ransom for over three hours.

But while I was barricaded in that classroom, I wrote on social media, “When they want you silent, speak louder.” And with the help of the Leadership Institute, that’s what my team and I are doing.

Through the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, my team of Ambassadors and I are spearheading a growing nationwide movement to defend women, common sense, and free speech.

This isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s a freedom issue. It affects men and women, and girls and boys. Because men don’t want to see women robbed of their opportunities or put in danger. And every person has the right to speak the truth.

With the Riley Gaines Center, my team and I are traveling the country to spread the word on more college campuses. We’re encouraging more girls and women to share their stories to combat this injustice. And we’re defending basic biological reality – indeed the very concept of truth itself.

This radical ideology is robbing women of opportunities, putting them in physical danger, and silencing them when they dare to dissent. Women already fought for equality, but now our achievements are being erased by men who declare themselves women.

I chose to join the Leadership Institute because I know this is where I can make a significant impact and reach young people to encourage them to join the fight.

My colleagues and I aim to show college-aged students how to bravely speak out. We connect them with Leadership Institute training opportunities where they can develop their skills and become principled leaders on their campuses and in their communities – and fight for America’s future.

I’d love to have you join this movement to defend women, sanity, and free speech. Please explore the links here to discover the many ways you can get involved, like:

  • And if you’d like to make a donation to the Riley Gaines Center, you can do that too.

In all these ways and more, you can stand bravely with me.

Will you join this growing movement to protect freedom and reality today? Get involved and speak louder.