The growth of transgender ideology puts young people at risk and will destroy private spaces for women, swimmer Riley Gaines and detransitioner Chloe Cole say.

Gaines and Cole, who spoke to The Daily Signal at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, have become public opponents of the extreme demands of the transgender movement.

Gaines, a 12-time All-American and three-time Southeastern Conference champion in swimming, tied with male swimmer Lia Thomas, 23, who identifies as a transgender woman, in the 200 freestyle at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships. 

Gaines has become outspoken about the invasion of girls and women’s sports by men, many of whom were uncompetitive in men’s sports.

“We have these mediocre male athletes,” Gaines told The Daily Signal in an interview. “In my experience, we had Lia Thomas, who was ranked 462nd at best as a male, just one year later winning a national title, and then further going on to be nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year.

Gaines, 22, said that allowing men into women’s sports makes a mockery of competition and puts women in danger. She explained that she swam every day for 18 years and put an enormous amount of effort into nutrition to be the best she could be. 

But being forced to compete against men who are “actively trying to decrease their performance by taking these hormone suppressors,” she said, feels like “mockery.”

In contact sports, Gaines said, the influx of men is putting women in physical danger.

“In physical-contact sports, these girls, they do have to worry about their safety,” Gaines said. “Men have 60% more upper body strength than women. And even with hormone suppression, that number will not decrease dramatically. It will decrease, but it will never ever be zero.”

To highlight how bad the presence of men in women’s sports can be, Gaines pointed to an incident in North Carolina in which a female high school volleyball player was badly injured by a male athlete.

“There was a male player on a high school team who jumped up, spiked the ball right in the girl’s face, [and] she’s still dealing with vision problems,” Gaines said.

The volleyball net for the men’s game is seven inches higher than in the women’s game, Gaines said, “so that right there is acknowledging the differences that men have.”

Cole, who began detransitioning at 17 and since has gone on to oppose gender transition in minors, spoke to The Daily Signal about how transgender ideology is pushed on children and parents almost everywhere.

The health care system quickly foisted the transition process on her, Cole says. 

“I was 12 when I started socially transitioning,” Cole recalled. “And at 13, I was diagnosed with [gender] dysphoria and put on puberty blockers and testosterone. And at 15, when I was just a sophomore in high school, I had a double mastectomy, my breasts removed.”

She said she “stopped transitioning” at 16.

These are potentially permanent and life-altering changes that affect “every single area of your life,” Cole said, from health to sexuality to having children. For many, these changes are happening before young people reach adulthood, when they would have a better understanding of the implications of a gender transition.

“It’s hard to understand just how much everything will change until you’re actually in it, and especially if you’re young,” Cole explained. “You don’t have much worldly experience or knowledge of the world.”

Cole told The Daily Signal that her experiences led her to becoming active on social media to warn others about the path she was put on and the dangers it presents.

What Cole said she wanted to get across is that the transgender movement is about much more than any individual decision.

“In recent years, the role of the parents and the family has been totally undermined,” Cole said. “They’re scooping up the kids from under their parents’ watch and they’re telling the parents, ‘If you don’t call them by this name, if you don’t allow them to undergo these life-changing treatments and surgeries, they’re going to kill themselves.’”

This tactic hurts children and gets between them and their parents and families, who are browbeaten into complying, Cole said.

“They use abuse tactics to force these parents into doing something that they don’t want to [do to] their children,” she said.

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