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Riley Gaines slams 'insufferable' trans activists mocking Bethany Hamilton at library event: 'So tolerant'

Transgender activists disrupted an event with athletes Riley Gaines and Bethany Hamilton at a children's library story hour with Brave Books in Missouri.

Transgender activists crashed a Missouri library event with former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines and surfing legend Bethany Hamilton last Friday, with at least one activist appearing to mock the one-armed professional surfer.

The two female athletes were hosting a children’s story hour featuring their inspirational titles about overcoming adversity from conservative book publisher Brave Books at The Library Center in Springfield, Missouri, on Feb. 2. 

Gaines and Hamilton have faced boycotts and backlash from the left for speaking out against the rise of biological men entering female sports competitions. 

After failing to get the February 2 event canceled, transgender activists showed up draped in pride flags and apparel and made random disturbances during the story hour, Brave Books told The Washington Examiner.


Gaines shared how one activist came to the event with a stuffed shark doll to mock Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack as a teenager.

"How messed up is this? This protester brought a shark stuffed animal to mock Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark. Miserable, insufferable people. But oh so 'tolerant,'" she wrote on X.

Gaines told Fox News Digital that it was just another example of "the left's open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance" "on full display."

"This is the tactic they use time and time again. They want so desperately to mock, intimidate, and threaten those they don't agree with into silence, but this was a step too far. I have no words to describe how messed up it is to directly mock Bethany Hamilton and her traumatic experience that cost her arm by bringing a shark to a children's story hour. Dare I call this protester an ableist?" she reacted in a statement.

Gaines continued, "Bethany embodies a strong, courageous woman that is a role model for all. But at the end of the day, I’m glad those activists came out to the BRAVE Books story hour. They needed to hear the stories read even more than the kids."


Brave Books CEO Trent Talbot said activists often show up at their story hours but the ones who showed up at the Missouri event were "downright nasty."

"We’ve seen activists at almost every one of our story hours. Sometimes they’re noisy, sometimes they’re dressed in drag, but these were downright nasty," Talbot told the Examiner.

"The activist who showed up dressed as a shark to target Bethany Hamilton is a terrible person. Once again, those who claim they are most tolerant turn out to be the most callous," he added.

Hamilton earned acclaim as one of the world's most successful surfers, despite losing her left arm during a shark attack in 2003 when she was just 13 years old.

She has faced criticism for speaking out against the World Surf League after they changed their rules to allow transgender women to compete at the highest level in professional surfing against biological women.

She said she wouldn't be competing in or supporting the World Surf League while the rule stands. Last week she doubled down on her stance, writing on X, "Male-bodied athletes should not be competing in female sports. Period."

Hamilton recently told Fox News Digital that she's faced death threats because of her advocacy to restore fairness in women's sports.

"It makes you sad that society can be so gnarly," she added.

Gaines, a 12-time NCAA All-American swimmer, became an outspoken champion for women in sports after she was forced to compete against, and to share a locker room with, male swimmer Lia Thomas in 2022.

Last month, she called leaders at the NCAA "cowards" for refusing to meet with female athletes who say they have been adversely affected by policies allowing transgender athletes to compete in women's sports.

Hamilton declined to comment on the incident.

Fox News Digital also reached out to Brave Books for comment but has yet to receive a response. 

Fox News' Kerry J. Byrne and Taylor Penley contributed to this report.

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