University Prez Says Event Where Conservative Speaker Was Attacked Was ‘Deeply Traumatic’ — for the Trans Community

By Published on April 12, 2023

San Francisco State University (SFSU) President Lynn Mahoney called an event featuring former collegiate athlete Riley Gaines “deeply traumatic” for the transgender community despite Gaines saying she was assaulted and barricaded in a room, according to a message to the campus community.

Gaines, a former swimmer at the University of Kentucky who competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, spoke at SFSU on April 6 where she was “ambushed and physically hit twice by a man” and “held for ran[som]” while being barricaded inside a classroom, she posted on Twitter. Mahoney issued a statement praising the students for their response to the speech, which she said was “deeply traumatic for many in our trans and LGBTQ+ communities” and “outraged many members of the SF State community,” the statement read.

“Unlike previous events on this campus and other campuses, I am proud to say that the First Amendment was honored,” she wrote. “The speaker expressed her views and engaged in dialogue with those present. In fact, a Turning Point USA representative noted in a media interview that the discussion was ‘constructive and polite.’ Unfortunately, a disturbance after the event concluded delayed the speaker’s departure. We are reviewing the incident and, as always, will learn from the experience.

She praised students who “rallied quickly to host alternative inclusive events, protest peacefully and provide one another with support at a difficult moment.” Her message follows other statements from university administrators claiming that the protests were peaceful.

“I can’t fathom how sharing my lived experience and perspective on why males competing with women has turned into something so controversial,” Gaines, who is also Independent Women’s Forum’s spokeswoman, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “SFSU has doubled down on their stance of indicating that the protestors are the real victims in this situation. They further went on to explain how the police force was entirely too excessive and how my actions were discriminatory and violent. Let me reiterate, they claimed that highlighting how men and women are biologically different is discriminatory and violent. I guess we can at least both agree that SFSU needs to hold themselves accountable.”

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Gaines competed against Thomas during the 200-yard freestyle during the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship in 2022. She became an outspoken critic of allowing transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity and an advocate for protecting women’s sports after tying with Thomas during the race.

“I ask that you all take some time this week, and every week, to check in with a student, with a colleague, and offer an ear, a shoulder and compassion,” Mahoney wrote. “And to our trans community, please know how welcome you are. We will turn this moment into an opportunity to listen and learn about how we can better support you.”

SFSU did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.


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