February 25, 2024


Riley Gaines slammed an Illinois woman who finished in third place behind two transgender competitors during a cycling race earlier this month after she came to their defenses amid criticism.

Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson, who were both born male, beat out all the opposition at the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships. Johnson and Williamson both came under fire for taking spots from biological women as Kristin Chalmers was forced to third on the podium.

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Riley Gaines in November 2023

Former UK swimmer Riley Gaines speaks to the crowd during a campaign stop for Daniel Cameron in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. (Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Chalmers told NBC News on Friday that “it would be ridiculous” to assert her life was “ruined” after finishing third and joined other cyclists in signing a letter in support of Johnson and Williamson.

Gaines, an OutKick contributor and host of OutKick’s “Gaines for Girls” podcast, said in a statement to Fox News Digital that Chalmers was a “traitor to women.”

“Why is it so often women applauding their own erasure? Chalmers may claim she’s fine losing to men, but female athletes like her don’t have the right to willingly surrender the integrity of competition for everyone,” Gaines said. 

“The majority of female athletes believe women deserve respect and fair competition. She is a traitor to ethical and fair sport. And she’s a traitor to women.”

Riley Gaines in Iowa in 2023

NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines reads an email from her phone during Gov. Kim Reynolds Harvest Festival at the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Lily Smith/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK)

In the letter, Chalmers and other cyclists called the controversy surrounding the event “manufactured.”

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“We refuse to be falsely presented as victims in a manufactured controversy driven to further alienate and marginalize those most vulnerable within our community, in service of rampant and harmful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation,” the letter read, according to NBC. “We speak for ourselves: inclusion makes our sport and community stronger. Everyone is welcome here. Trans women are women.”

Chicago CrossCup, which organized the cycle races, says on its website that it follows USA Cycling’s Transgender Athlete Participation policies for all of its races.

Illinois Fox News graphic

Two transgender cyclists topped a women’s race in Illinois earlier this month. (Fox News)

“Discrimination or harassment of any kind on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification… or any other stupid idea someone comes up with to belittle others will not be tolerated at CCC events and may result in disqualification and/or being asked to leave,” the website reads.

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In July, Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for sports cycling, updated its policy, banning transgender athletes from elite competition. 

Fox News’ Michael Drogan contributed to this report.

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