Former college swimmer says she was assaulted at an event opposing the inclusion of trans women in women’s sports

 Former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines said she was beaten Thursday on the San Francisco State University campus.



According to the event announcement, Gaines spoke out at the school about her opposition to the inclusion of transgender athletes in women's sports.


"I was beaten by one guy. I was hit twice, both times in the shoulder and the second time in the face," Gaines told CNN's Natasha Chen. "The other protesters just ambushed and cornered me before I was able to move out with the help of campus police."


A video Gaines posted at the event showed her moving quickly, surrounded by security personnel. One protester can be heard chanting "transgender rights are human rights," but the video is shaky and does not appear to show aggression.


Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, second from right, stands at a rally outside the NCAA conference in San Antonio on Jan. 12, 2023.

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, second from right, stands at a rally outside the NCAA conference in San Antonio on Jan. 12, 2023.

Darren Abbate/AP

"We are conducting an ongoing investigation of the circumstances. There have been no arrests in connection with this incident," the University Police Department said in a statement. "There was a disruption following the event, which necessitated UPD officers to move the event speaker from the room to another safe location."


University Police did not immediately respond to CNN's inquiries about the nature of the "disturbance" and whether the investigation was related to the alleged attack.



Gaines tied for fifth with transgender swimmer Leah Thomas in the women's 200-meter freestyle final at the 2022 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships and has been vocal about her opposition to the inclusion of transgender women in women's swimming.


"This is an appalling attack on free speech on college campuses," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted. "House Republicans stand behind Riley Gaines and her courageous and tireless efforts to protect women in sports."


PEN America, a literary and free speech advocacy group, called the incident a "disaster."


"Physical intimidation or violence is never an acceptable response to speech, no matter how hateful or controversial," said Kristen Shahverdian, senior manager of free speech and education at PEN America.


"Universities are places of discussion, debate and disagreement," Shahverdian added in a statement. “What happened at SFSU is a mockery of the principles of free speech that allow higher education to function. It is unacceptable and anathema to the way the campus operates.”


Gaines appearance organized by Turning Point USA

University spokesman Kent Bravo told CNN that Gaines' appearance was "booked by a recognized student organization" and organized by the conservative group Turning Point USA.


Andrew Kolvet, a spokesman for Turning Point USA, said he spoke to three people in the room Thursday night.


He said they told him Gaines talked to a roomful of people during the event, including people who disagreed with her. Corvette said the conversation was constructive and polite, and there was an interruption at the end of the event, according to those present.


Corvette was not present Thursday night, but she reached out to Gaines via text message when she was taken by campus police to a computer room during the incident, which had been locked inside while protesters were at the door.


Ultimately, the San Francisco Police Department sent officers to disperse the crowd and escort Gaines away, Corvette said, adding that based on the messages they exchanged, Gaines did not leave until near midnight.


CNN has reached out to San Francisco police for more details.


Turning Point USA has been active at the university for several years, Kolvet said, but this is the first semester the chapter has been officially recognized as a student organization on campus. The event featuring Gaines was the group's first event this term. Another event is expected in a few weeks.

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