TheSpectator -- Riley Gaines and the misogyny of the trans-activist mob

The misogynist mob strikes again. Its target this time was the American swimmer Riley Gaines. What was her offence? What did this young woman do to attract the attention — and the jeers and insults and threats —  of the woke witchfinder-generals? She said men should not compete in women’s sports. Obscene. Fetch the ducking stool.

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines (photo: Alamy)
Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines (photo: Alamy)

This is Gaines’ heresy: to refuse to believe that trans women are women; to prefer the light of scientific and moral reason over the delusions of the mob

Ms Gaines was mobbed at San Francisco State University. She had just given a speech on why women’s sports must be for women only, not biological males who think they’re women. She has direct experience of just how unjust it is when people who’ve been through male puberty —  what we used to call ‘men’ — are allowed to hit the pool or the track alongside female athletes.

Gaines is a 23-year-old champion college swimmer in the US. She has spoken movingly about finding herself competing against Lia Thomas at the Women’s NCAA Swimming Championship last year. Thomas is male. He is 6”4.

When he was plain old Will Thomas, he was ranked around the 500 mark among male college swimmers. When he became Lia, he butterflied his way to the top of the women’s rankings.

At last year’s Ivy League Women’s Championship, he broke records. He won the 500-freestyle race by a full seven seconds. In his wake — far behind the waves made by his long arms, huge hands and male muscle mass — were women who had trained their whole lives to be the best at their sport. Tough luck, girls.

Lia Thomas and Riley Gaines, 2022 (photo: Alamy)

Ms Gaines thinks this is immoral and unfair. And she’s right, of course. Women’s sport is being destroyed by the presence of men, she says. It is being ‘eroded by discriminatory policies that allow males who identify as women to compete on women’s teams and in women’s events’, she said in [132]an interview with Fox News.

What has been the response to Ms Gaines’ scientifically correct observation that male bodies enjoy certain advantages over female bodies in sports that require strength and speed? To her perfectly legitimate request that only women — real women; adult human females — be allowed to compete in women’s sport?

She’s been monstered. She’s been branded a bigot. She’s been damned as a witchy transphobe. This gross and sexist intolerance of Gaines’ pro-women, pro-science beliefs reached an ugly crescendo at San Francisco State University this week.

After giving her speech on saving women’s sports, Gaines found herself surrounded by a baying mob. They screamed insults in her face. In one video you can hear them calling her a ‘f**king bitch’ and telling her to ‘go the f**k home’.

And of course they chanted ‘Trans women are women’, the great religious  diktat of our times. Anyone who denies or blasphemes against this right-on commandment will be cast out of polite society, branded with the mark of ‘Terf’ to indicate their unfitness for public life. This is Gaines’ heresy — to refuse to believe that trans women are women; to prefer the light of scientific and moral reason over the delusions of the modern mob.

There was violence from the mob, too. Gaines says she was ‘ambushed’ and ‘physically hit twice by a man’. So this is the price for defending women’s sports and women’s rights — hate, insults, violence.

The persecution of Riley Gaines follows the witch-shaming of Kellie-Jay Keen — aka Posie Parker — in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago. She was likewise set upon by a deranged mob hurling expletives and placards and soup at the witch who refused to ‘know her place’.

You can dress this up in as much PC language as you like. You can call it trans activism or progressive agitation or whatever. But we can all see what’s really going on here. We know that under the cover of right-on lingo, the medieval witch-hunt has been rehabilitated. Now, as then, any woman who dares to deviate from correct-think, who behaves in a ‘hysterical’ or ‘disobedient’ manner, will be shamed and attacked.

Gaines is only the latest victim of today’s Salem-infused hunt for bad women.

In any other era, Gaines would be celebrated as a heroine. Here is a brave young lady standing up to sports bodies and the political establishment more broadly who insist that men who identify as women literally are women and should be permitted to partake in women’s sports.

Against the stern and censorious new ideologies of identity politics, Gaines is taking a stand for sexual equality, reason, scientific truth and women’s rights. Yet rather than being celebrated, she is demonised and assaulted. It’s shameful.

The violent mob that mauled Gaines, like the mob that attacked Keen, did not emerge out of thin air. No, this was a brutish physical manifestation of a broader culture of misogynistic intolerance that has been green-lighted by everyone from American swimming bodies to the British left. We need more tolerance of the ‘witches’, and more intolerance of their hunters.

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