Swimmer and women’s sports advocate Riley Gaines will be one of the faces President Joe Biden will see in the crowd as he delivers his second State of the Union address Tuesday night.  

“I think my presence here gives a face for Joe Biden to look at and tell me, … in my eyes with me being in the room, that I don’t matter,” Gaines told The Daily Signal, adding, “because at this point, that’s essentially what he’s saying, is that biological women, our feelings, our existence, it doesn’t matter. We simply exist to validate the feelings and the identity of a man.” 

Gaines, 22, is the guest of Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., and says she was honored when the congresswoman asked her to attend with her.  

“I cannot believe I was invited,” Gaines, who is also a spokeswoman for Independent Women’s Forum, said. “I just felt truly so honored. I know each representative only gets one guest, so to be her guest of choice—of course, that’s just a huge humbling moment.”  

Gaines, a 12-time All-American and three-time Southeastern Conference champion, gained national attention last year after she tied with male swimmer Lia Thomas in the 200 freestyle at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships. Thomas, who believes he is a woman, began competing on the University of Pennsylvania women’s team after competing on the men’s team for three years.   

After the tie with Thomas, the trophy was given to the male swimmer and Gaines was told her trophy would be mailed to her.  

Since having to swim against Thomas, Gaines has continued to share her story and advocate for the protection of women’s sports.  

“Riley Gaines is a courageous and inspirational woman who dared to speak out against the tyranny of wokeism,” McClain told Fox News. “She has stood up for women’s rights and the protection of fair and equal playing fields in sports even though she was hounded in the media. I am honored Riley will be my guest at the State of the Union, and I am eager to work with her moving forward to protect the values that make the United States the greatest country in the world.” 

Gaines says she hopes her presence at the State of the Union will provide a “face to the issue” of women losing opportunities and scholarships when forced to compete in sports against men who say they are women.  

If given the opportunity to talk with Biden, Gains says she would like to address the changes the president is trying to make to Title IX. Biden has proposed changing the definition of the word “sex” in Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex within public education, to be redefined to include gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Under that proposed change, which remains in review, men who identify as women would be permitted to use women’s restrooms and locker rooms at school and participate on women’s sports teams. 

“Title IX was initially created to protect, and it was created to stop discrimination on the basis of sex,” Gaines said. “And so, allowing men back into our sport, back into our changing rooms—I want Biden to know that’s not progressive. This is not progress. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. This is taking us back 50 years in time.”  

Gaines says she will continue to advocate for the protection of women’s sports, not just for her or current female athletes, but for “future female athletes.”  

Mary Margaret Olohan contributed to this news story.

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