A high school volleyball star who suffered gruesome injuries when a boy posing as a girl violently spiked the ball in her face told North Carolina state lawmakers Wednesday the state needs legislation barring biological males from competing against girls.
Payton McNabb, now a senior at Hiwassee Dam High School, suffered a concussion and damage to her neck in the Sept. 1, 2022 incident. She joined former college swimming star Riley Gaines in calling for state lawmakers to pass the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.
“Other injuries I still suffer from today include impaired vision, partial paralysis on my right side, constant headaches as well as anxiety and depression,” she said. “My ability to learn, retain, comprehend has also been impaired and I require accommodations at school for testing because of this.”
The young woman, who continues to compete at the sport, said the incident has affected her in other ways. But her goal was to take a stand for younger female athletes who could face unfair and potentially dangerous competition.
“I know that my time playing is coming to an end,” she said. “I am here for every biological female athlete behind me. My little sister, my cousins, my teammates. Allowing biological males to compete against biological females is dangerous. I may be the first to come before you with an injury but if this doesn’t pass, I won’t be the last.”
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Watch the clip of Payton McNabb getting spiked in the face by a male competing with the women. Then watch her testimony she gave today for the first time publicly. I was honored to stand alongside her in NC to continue the fight to protect women's sports. pic.twitter.com/mvJmwprkaX
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) April 20, 2023
Gaines, a former All-American swimmer at the University of Kentucky, has been at the forefront of the cause for protecting women’s sports ever since she was deprived of a fifth-place medal at last year’s NCAA championships by Lia Thomas, a biological male.
“Being successful at the elite level is far from easy and it’s a lifelong journey,” Gaines told the lawmakers. “It’s impossible to put into words the amount of time and dedication and sacrifices that I’ve made.”
Gaines noted she had started swimming at the age of four, and dedicated 18 years of her life to swimming, adding, “which isn’t unique when competing at the collegiate level.”
She recalled the March 2022 NCAA championships, when Thomas won the 500 freestyle, “beating out the most impressive and accomplished female swimmers in the country, including many U.S. Olympians and American record holders by body lengths.”
Noting that Thomas had been rated 462nd, at best, competing against men the year before, she segued to the next day, when she and Thomas tied, but the NCAA handed the trophy to Thomas, telling her to go home empty-handed because Thomas needed to hold the trophy for pictures.
“I felt betrayed and belittled and like my efforts and sacrifices I had made had been reduced to a photo op to validate the identity and feelings of a male,” she remembered. “But my feelings did not matter.”
“But that is not all,” she continued tearfully. “In addition to giving up our awards and our titles and our opportunities, the NCAA forced female swimmers to share a locker room with Thomas, a six-foot-four, 22-year-old male equipped with an exposing male genitalia in a room full of vulnerable, undressed women.”
“Let me be clear: we were not forewarned about this arrangement; no one asked for our consent, and we did not give our consent,” she noted.
“It’s impossible to speak for every girl on that pool deck and I don’t claim to speak for every girl, but I can wholeheartedly attest to the tears that I witnessed from the 9th and 17th place finishers who missed out on being named an All American by one place,” she continued. “And, again, I can wholeheartedly attest to the extreme discomfort in the locker room from 18 to 22-year-old girls who were exposed to male body parts and having to undress in a room with a male watching.”
“I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that around the country, female athletes who protested the inclusion of Lia Thomas in the women’s division were threatened, intimidated, and emotionally blackmailed into silence and submission,” she declared.
The North Carolina House, now featuring a Republican supermajority, approved the legislation 73-39. The bill now goes to the state Senate.