Riley Gaines Tells Lawmakers She Was ‘Held against My Will’ for Hours By Trans Activists

Former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines testified before Congress on Tuesday about her frightening experience at San Francisco State University last month, when transgender-rights activists held her against her will for three hours and demanded a ransom for her release.

Gaines, who is an advocate for fairness in women’s sports, testified during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on left-wing organized violence.

The incident occurred when Gaines visited SFSU on April 6 at the invitation of Turning Point USA and the Leadership Institute to speak about the right of women to compete on a level playing field. She testified that the school administration knew she as coming and she was told she would meet with campus police to discuss a security plan ahead of her talk. But then the campus police never showed up.

Gaines, who tied for fifth with transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas in the 200-meter NCAA championship last year, gave her speech as protesters outside the room chanted, “We fight back,” she said, causing her to fear for her safety.


At the conclusion of the speech, protesters filled the room with raised fists and flickered the lights. Eventually the room went dark and a woman grabbed Gaines, claimed she was with the campus police and pulled Gaines toward the door. Gaines testified that she didn’t believe the woman was with police “because she wore no clothes that indicated she was an officer, and she had a face covering on, so I couldn’t see her face.”

She said she resisted but ultimately gave in to the woman’s demands because she “really truly feared” for her life.

She was then escorted to a stairwell that was blocked by protesters. She ultimately ended up barricaded in an office with members of campus police.

“The small room we had found would be my prison for the next three hours, and in those hours, I was certainly held against my will,” Gaines said.

The protesters demanded ransom and said they would not release her without payment, she testified.

“They said that my appearance on campus was so traumatic that they were owed something,” Gaines said. “They were under the false notion that the university paid me to be there.”

Outside, protesters yelled “vengeful, racist” things, she testified. They shouted, “you’re only protecting her because she’s a white girl,” “you knew this was going to happen,” “you were asking for this,” and “she doesn’t get to go home safely.”

She said police did not provide any support to her because the issue was too controversial. Gaines said they would not assure her she would get out and that no one asked if she was okay, even after she told an officer she was hit.

Gaines at one point remarked that she missed her flight home because of the situation and the lieutenant in the room allegedly said, “Don’t you think we all want to go home?”

Ultimately, the San Francisco Police Department responded to the incident and helped free Gaines.

“Free speech suffers when university administrators do not condemn violence and kidnapping on their campus,” she said. “It’s chilled when administrators do not adequately prepare for and protect the safety of their speakers, whether liberal or conservative. Free speech is undermined when administrators misrepresent and malign the views with whom they disagree.”