Women’s rights activist Riley Gaines recently criticized a swimming championship that allowed a 50-year-old biological male to compete against teenage girls in Toronto.

Former NCAA swimmer Gaines has been actively working towards protecting the rights and security of women in sports. She believes she herself suffered unfair gender practices in swimming when she competed against Lia Thomas, a biologically male swimmer, in the 2022 NCAA finals.

Recently, Gaines came across another such incident at the Richmond Hill Aquatic Centre’s Fall Classic swimming competition. The organization held the event on October 20, in which 10 female swimmers took part.

While nine of the swimmers were between 13 to 14 years of age, the 10th swimmer turned out to be a 50-year-old biological man named Nicholas J. Cepeda, a.k.a Melody Wiseheart.

Disappointed by the rules of the competition, the parents of the teenage swimmers tipped Rebel News, who reported about the incident. The publication revealed that the organizers initially denied the 50-year-old Orangeville Otters Swim Club member’s participation in the championship, but later admitted them.

Gaines then shared the Rebel News report on her X (formerly known as Twitter) page and wrote:

Riley Gaines and Lia Thomas’s feud explained

Riley Gaines (Image via USA Today)

In 2022, Riley Gaines from the University of Kentucky competed against Lia Thomas from the University of Pennsylvania at the NCAA finals. Although both swimmers were tied at the fifth place, Thomas, a biologically male swimmer, was given the medal.

The NCAA organizers later explained that they gave the medal to Thomas to encourage transgender swimmers. However, Gaines was not pleased by the NCAA’s gesture. Not only did she find it unfair, it also cost her a place in the US national swimming team.

Besides the NCAA’s decision, Riley Gaines and her team members were reportedly uncomfortable at the event as they had to share the same locker room with Lia Thomas. Although the University of Kentucky swimmer had come out as trans, she had not undergone any surgery until then.

Gaines later claimed that the biologically male swimmer even exposed her male genitalia in front of them.

After that incident, Riley Gaines has actively taken a stand in the campaign for gender equality in sports.

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Kay Adams