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Riley Gaines Slams Trans Activists Who Taunted One-Armed Surfing Legend Bethany Hamilton With Toy Shark

A library event featuring former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines and surfing icon Bethany Hamilton took an unexpected turn as transgender activists disrupted the gathering, with one activist appearing to mock Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack.

The event, held at The Library Center in Springfield, Missouri, on Feb. 2, showcased children’s stories of overcoming adversity from conservative book publisher Brave Books.

Trans Activists Crash Library Event

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Despite facing opposition and boycotts for their stance against biological men competing in female sports, Gaines and Hamilton proceeded with their children’s story hour.

Continuous Disruptions

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However, transgender activists, draped in pride flags and attire, disrupted the event with random disturbances, according to Brave Books.

Mockery Aimed at Bethany Hamilton

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During the event, one activist reportedly brought a stuffed shark doll to mock Hamilton, who famously lost her arm in a shark attack as a teenager.

Oh So Tolerant

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Gaines condemned the act, hitting on X with this message “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.’”

Response from Riley Gaines

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Reacting to the incident, Gaines criticized the activists for their behavior, labeling them as “miserable” and “insufferable, and called it just another example of “the left’s open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance” “on full display.”


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In a statement, Riley said, “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.

Praise For Bethany

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Gaines showered praise on Bethany, “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’s Statement

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Trent Talbot, CEO of Brave Books, condemned the activists’ behavior, describing it as “downright nasty.”

He singled out the activist who mocked Hamilton with the shark doll, labeling them as “callous” and questioning their claimed tolerance.

Bethany Hamilton’s Advocacy

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Despite facing criticism for her stance against transgender women competing in women’s sports, Hamilton remains steadfast in her advocacy.

World Surf League’s Contentious Decision

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She has spoken out against the World Surf League’s decision to allow transgender women to compete against biological women, citing fairness concerns.

Championing Fairness in Women’s Sports

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Gaines, a decorated NCAA swimmer, has also been vocal in her support for fairness in women’s sports.

She has criticized policies allowing transgender athletes to compete against biological women and has called out institutions, including the NCAA, for their perceived lack of action.

Facing Backlash and Threats

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Both Gaines and Hamilton have faced backlash and threats due to their advocacy.

Hamilton revealed receiving death threats for her stance on fairness in women’s sports, highlighting the challenges of speaking out against prevailing narratives.

Continued Advocacy

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Despite the disruption at the library event, Gaines reaffirmed the importance of sharing inspirational stories with children.

She expressed hope that even the activists in attendance might benefit from hearing the empowering narratives.

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