Demonstrators protest the inclusion of transgender athletes in the NCAA

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines and about two dozen demonstrators outside an NCAA convention on Thursday protested the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s sports and threatened the association with legal action if it didn’t change its policy.

Gaines competed in last year’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with Penn’s Leah Thomas, who became the first transgender woman to win a national title (women’s 500-yard freestyle). She also placed fifth in the 200 m freestyle, tying with Gaines.

“Today, we intend to personally ask the NCAA to stop discrimination against female athletes by handing them a petition that we have collected nearly 10,000 signatures in just a couple of days,” Gaines said, launching over an hour of speeches that attracted the attention of a few onlookers and a handful of quiet opponents of the protest.

This topic has divided the US over the past few years, with critics saying transgender athletes have an advantage over cisgender women in competition. Eighteen states have passed laws banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s high school sports; Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that West Virginia’s ban is constitutional and can remain in place.

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