Reeves, Gaines and Scanlan will meet on stage but 'Lia' is the topic

Reeves, Gaines and Scanlan will meet on stage but 'Lia' is the topic

UPenn swimmer Will "Lia" Thomas

Reeves, Gaines and Scanlan will meet on stage but 'Lia' is the topic

A red-state Republican governor who is seeking re-election after signing the nation's first women-in-sports bill into law is meeting with two well-known names to remind voters about the issue.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is scheduled to sit down Tuesday with NCAA swimming champ Riley Gaines to discuss women’s sports and transgender ideology. The event in Tupelo is described as an “arm chair discussion” with Reeves and Gaines. Joining them on stage is Paula Scanlan, a former University of Pennsylvania swimmer who was forced to share a locker room with male swimmer Will Thomas. The transgender swimmer called himself "Lia." 

Talking about the event on American Family Radio, Reeves said it's important for Mississippians to let the two young women know what they are doing is making a difference.

“And that we care for you and we pray for you,” Reeves said. “Because a lot of times, when you have folks like that that are constantly under attack, they need to hear that positive reinforcement."

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Gaines was a record-setting All-American swimmer there. She was also one of the first female college athletes to publicly complain when Thomas, a six-foot-plus man, was allowed by the NCAA to compete against her and other females in Division 1 women’s swimming.

Scanlan ignored pressure to remain quiet about Thomas and began telling her story over the summer. A victim of sexual assault at age 16, she testified in July in a U.S. House hearing about how Thomas affected her and other females on her team.

“Telling me I’m transphobic doesn’t change my beliefs,” Scanlan told The New York Post. “It doesn’t change how I felt. It doesn’t change the nightmares I was having. It’s just an excuse.”

Both Gaines and Scanlan are currently affiliated with the Independent Women’s Forum.

Reeves, Tate (R-MS) Reeves

Reeves, who is seeking a second term in November, signed the nation’s first transgender athlete ban when he signed Senate Bill 2536 in March 2021. The then-new state law was vilified as a “solution in search of a problem” by a homosexual rights group at the time but Gaines and Scanlan showed what it was like to be abandoned by politicians, university leaders, feminists, and the media.  

Reeves’ opponent in November is Democrat Brandon Presley, a longtime public service commissioner. He is wooing Republican voters as a “pro-life” and “pro-gun” moderate Democrat.