Swimmer Riley Gaines came under fire for her role in getting transgender women excluded from chess competitions

Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines was left under fire by users on social media after she claimed that trans athletes should not compete in chess in women category.

Swimmer Riley Gaines came under fire for her role in getting transgender women excluded from chess competitions

Riley Gaines (Pic Credit: Imago)

Riley Gaines, an anti-trans swimmer, has been criticized for her opposition to the inclusion of transgender women in women’s chess tournaments. The situation escalated when transgender journalist Erin Reed, engaged to trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr, called out Gaines via a social media post. Reed’s post referenced the International Chess Federation’s (FIDE) decision to exclude transgender women from women’s competitions.

Prompting her to question whether Gaines remembered her efforts to enforce such a ban, Gaines confirmed her role in the advocacy efforts. She stated her belief that women’s opportunities should be reserved exclusively for women. While questioning the purpose of women’s sports categories if men are allowed to compete in them, Stacy Cay, a transgender comedian and model, called Gaines’s reasoning incorrect after their conversation.


Cay argued that is not a feminist perspective and emphasized that transgender women are not men. She also offered this correction in hopes of enlightenment. Over the summer, FIDE announced its controversial decision to bar transgender players from its events for two years. Following this statement from Cay, Gaines came under fire from several users on social media.

The claim that the hormone levels and strength of transgender and cisgender athletes differ supports the ban. The FIDE management team’s deputy leader, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, underlined the need for more scientific studies on the effects of hormones on chess performance. Since there haven’t been any documented instances of transgender players receiving unfair advantages in chess tournaments over an extended period of time, this statement is under debate.  

Riley Gains advocates for Ohio law that would outlaw gender-affirming medical treatments and transgender athletes

Gaines is known for her public disapproval of competing against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. Gaines advocated before the Ohio Senate Government Oversight Committee, supporting a bill aimed at excluding transgender athletes from Ohio’s women’s sports. She shared her experience tying with Thomas in the 202-yard freestyle championship in 2022.

Riley Gaines
Riley Gaines [Image Credit- Liberty University]

They were both placed fifth. However, Gaines was left enraged at the NCAA as they only recognized Thomas with the fifth-place award. It left Gaines feeling marginalized and undervalued as if her achievements and emotions were secondary.

In her declaration, Gaines recounted how NCAA representatives relayed the decision to allocate the trophy to Thomas, citing the necessity of upholding a favorable public image. This revelation left her startled and slighted, reduced to what she described as a mere photographic accessory. Additionally, should House Bill 68 pass, it would prohibit doctors from providing transgender minors with puberty inhibitors or hormonal treatments.

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