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Riley Gaines calls out Democrats who opposed women's sports bill: They will 'pay for this' in 2024

Former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines expressed her gratitude for House Republicans’ efforts after the passage of the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, a cause Gaines has spearheaded in recent months. But Gaines offered a stern warning to Democrats, predicting the party will “pay” for their stance in 2024.

As an NCAA athlete, Gaines competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, which sparked her fight to bar trans athletes from participating in women’s sports. The Republican legislation, if passed by the Senate, would accomplish just that.

The partisan bill passed Thursday morning with zero votes from Democrats, several of whom accused Republicans of “bullying” transgender student-athletes. 

BIDEN TO VETO GOP BILL PROTECTING WOMEN’S SPORTS, CALLS IT ‘DISCRIMINATION’ AGAINST TRANSGENDER STUDENTS

Riley Gaines and Lia Thomas

Mar 18, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Penn Quakers swimmer Lia Thomas holds a trophy after finishing fifth in the 200 free at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships as Kentucky Wildcats swimmer Riley Gaines looks on at Georgia Tech. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

“It’s almost ironic,” Gaines said on “The Faulkner Focus” following the bill’s passage. “The left was once a party that embraced women and fought for women’s rights. And now we’ve seen this narrative being totally flipped.”

“It just shows the war on women is underway, and the Democrats will pay for this in 2024,” she said.

The bill seeks to amend Title IX to prohibit schools that receive federal funding from allowing “a person whose sex is male” from participating in women’s sports. The bill defines sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

Gaines explained to host Harris Faulkner that her race against Lia Thomas resulted in a tie down to the one-hundredth of a second. She was then told that there was only one trophy available, and officials gave it to Thomas. 

KATIE PORTER, PIERS MORGAN CLASH OVER RILEY GAINES’ EFFORTS TO KEEP WOMEN’S SPORTS FAIR

She claimed she pushed back, but an official said the trophy was going to Thomas for “photo purposes” and that she would have to go home empty-handed.

“When this NCAA official reduced everything that I had worked my entire life for – every girl at that meet had worked their entire life for – down to a photo op for a [biological] male, that’s when I knew I had had enough. And I was done waiting for someone else to speak out on behalf of female athletes,” she said.

Gaines said she has “totally changed” her life plan as a result. She decided not to attend dental school in order to press forward in her fight against transgender athletes’ ability to participate in women’s sports.

“Dental school will always be there. But the relevance and the importance behind this issue, seeing firsthand what’s at stake if someone doesn’t fight for this, I realize that that opportunity might not always be there,” she said. 

The bill is now headed to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it is expected to fail.

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