Riley Gaines Speaks at Penn State Amid Protests

Riley Gaines Speaks at Penn State Amid Protests

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who has been vocal in her opposition to males who identify as females competing in female athletics, told about 150 students and community members gathered on the campus of Penn State University Tuesday that being a female is a matter of DNA.

Gaines spoke during the “Real Woman’s Day” event hosted by Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom. Real Women’s Day, a social media movement created by Gaines, is intended to recognize biological females on Oct. 10. The date, in Roman numerals, is X/X, which is the chromosome pairing of biological females. 

“This date, 10/10, is symbolized by the Roman numerals ‘XX,’” said an article posted on, “signifying what it means to be a woman, something innate in our very DNA: the science that defines a real woman.” 

Tuesday’s speech was originally scheduled to be held in an indoor space, but was moved to the HUB Lawn at Penn State after Gaines said on Monday that her speech had been canceled

But according to the university, the indoor event was never actually scheduled. Turning Point USA “sought indoor space, but did not meet the deadline for submitting the required reservation documents—an expectation upheld for any recognized student organization at Penn State,” the school told Fox News Digital on Monday. “The group then shared alternative plans for an outdoor event to celebrate free speech, and as late as last week they had no confirmation that Ms. Gaines would attend the event, however they sent a confirmation early this morning.” 

The former college swimmer posted a September video in which Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi addressed the student body on free speech. She detailed how the university is “bound by the First Amendment,” which allows “bigots” to occasionally speak on campus. The First Amendment forces the school to allow all speakers “that many will consider controversial, either because their views are not widely held or because a speaker espouses ideas that are actively hateful.” 

Gaines wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “No way President of Penn State makes a whole video explaining why public institutions are legally obligated to let ‘bigots’ apparently like me on campus to speak then proceeds to CANCEL my speech tomorrow for real women’s day (X/X). Have it your way. See ya tomorrow with a soap box and megaphone, Penn State!”

Critics of Gaines and her beliefs began to gather outside of the HUB, carrying transgender flags across from Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom’s beachball demonstration.

“I heard that there was a transphobic speaker coming, and I wanted to come out and show my support for my fellow trans or non-binary siblings,” graduate student Winter Parts said. “It’s really important for me to stand up to this … I think it’s disgusting that events like this are normalized where transphobic speakers come to campus, so I’m happy to come out here and resist.”

Members of Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom relocated their tables from the top of HUB Lawn to the seating area in between the Biobehavioral Health Building and the Henderson Building. En route to the new location, the number of protestors grew, and a select few began shouting expletives at members of the organizing groups, and one individual flipped a table.

Eventually, two protesting individuals were detained by Penn State Police and escorted from HUB Lawn for “disorderly conduct, according to one of the arresting officers.

Throughout Gaines’ 20-minute speech, protesters never stopped chanting, and supporters of Gaines began to shout “protect girls’ rights” in response. 

“What are you so scared of?” Gaines asked. “The truth? Science? Common sense? Logic? Reasoning? I’d love to hear your argument here because what I’m here to talk about is men are men. Women are women, and you cannot change your sex,” Gaines said to the protestors. “It’s that simple.”

A handful of political figures were in attendance at Gaines’ event, including 25th District Pennsylvania Sen. Cris Dush and State College Area School District School Board candidate Megan Layng. 

After Gaines departed, Dush helped lead a group of remaining supporters in prayer, and the group prayed for those in Israel, freedom of speech, and election integrity.

“I’m glad we were actually able to have both sides here,” Dush said following Gaines’ speech. “I would’ve preferred that it would have been a civil discourse … [Gaines] has had that experience on other campuses. She asked a couple of times if people had questions from the other side, and they refused. That’s telling. Intellectual discussions and intellectual honesty is paramount on a university campus.”

Above: Riley Gaines, a 4x SEC champion swimmer, speaks to CPAC Texas 2022 on the third day of the convention.

Photo: Chris Rusanowsky/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom

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