Riley Gaines unleashes on red state Dem candidate after footage reveals ‘ignorant’ stance on school sports

FIRST ON FOX: Riley Gaines blasted an “ignorant at best or a sellout at worst” Democrat House candidate for claiming to be “in the middle” on issues, then expressing support for students in Montana to play sports based on gender identity.

Monica Tranel, who is running for the seat currently held by Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., has made several claims of taking a more moderate position on issues, writing in a May 8 post on X that “being in the middle is in my DNA.” On Tranel’s campaign website, the Democrat also said that she is running for Congress “to represent the missing middle.”

Despite claiming to “come to the center” on issues, new footage obtained by Fox News Digital shows Tranel expressing support for students in Montana competing in sports based on their gender identity rather than their sex at birth and enshrining individuals identifying as female as real women under the law.

Riley Gaines, a swimmer who was forced to compete in the 2022 NCAA championship against a biological male, told Fox News Digital that Tranel’s “position blatantly underscores a disconnection with the people of Montana who value fairness in women’s sports”


Democratic candidate Monica Tranel campaigns for the newly created Montana’s western district U.S. House seat on Sept. 17, 2022 in Bozeman, Montana. Tranel is running against Republican Ryan Zinke. (William Campbell)

“Allowing males to compete in women’s categories undermines the integrity of women’s athletics and negates the level playing field that Title IX was designed to protect,” Gaines said. “This isn’t just a sports issue; it’s about ensuring that the voices and hard-fought rights of women are not sidelined in the guise of progress.”

While Tranel claims to come to the middle, a national Gallup poll found that nearly 70% of Americans believe individuals should compete in sports based on their biological sex rather than gender identity. 

“Claiming to represent the ‘missing middle’ while advocating for policies that ignore the majority’s views on the common sense understanding of men’s and women’s sports participation makes Tranel ignorant at best or a sellout at worst,” Gaines added. “True centrism respects and reflects the consensus of the community, not just the niche interests of unelected bureaucrats and officials.”


A spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) agreed that the comment is “completely out-of-step” with Montana values.

“Allowing trans athletes to play in women’s sports is completely out-of-step with what Montanans believe, proving once again Monica is wrong for Montana,” NRCC spokeswoman Delanie Bomar told Fox News Digital.

Kaitlynn Wheeler has sued the NCAA alongside fellow former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, pictured here, alleging the sports body has violated Title IX. (Michael Clevenger)

The video of Tranel was recorded just weeks before the Montana Supreme Court overturned a state law banning biological males from competing in women’s sports. Tranel appeared in the clip to be unaware of the ban that was in place at the time, but she proceeded to say that she believes “trans kids” should participate in sports. 

When asked about whether she believes biological males should participate in women’s sports, Tranel did not specify her stance on the issue, telling Fox that she supports “Montanan’s privacy and freedom.”

“I will always support Montanan’s privacy and freedom, and as a mother with daughters in the Montana school system, nothing is more important to me than their safety and growth. I trust Montana parents to make the best decisions for their kids,” Tranel said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Rep. Ryan Zinke said Monica Tranel is a “far left activist who is trying to convince voters she’s a moderate.” (Tom Williams)

“Ryan Zinke would rather engage in deceptive political games, than meet with Montanans, which is why he supports policies that would limit families ability to control their own lives,’ she said, taking a hit at her potential GOP opponent. “So let me state clearly, I am the only candidate in this race that supports Montanan’s freedom and privacy to live their lives as they see fit.” 


A spokesperson for Zinke, the Republican seeking re-election in the red state, said “Tranel is a far left activist who is trying to convince voters she’s a moderate.”

“Her record and her own words prove she’s an extremist. Monica was the lawyer for a child rapist’s appeal and tried to get him out of jail, she supports mutilating and transitioning children, and she fully supports men in girls’ locker rooms and sports,” Colton Snedecor, Spokesperon for Zinke, told Fox News Digital in a statement. “Montana voters deserve to know her true colors.” 

Tranel ran against Zinke for a seat to represent Montana’s 1st Congressional District in the 2022 midterms, but lost to the former Navy SEAL.