American soccer star Megan Rapinoe has slammed recent legislation across the US to ban trans kids from participating in school sports as an “intense political assault on LGBTQ people”.
In an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on Sunday (28 March), Rapinoe, who is a lesbian, described how being able to play sports as a child “shaped my life’s path”. She said it taught her “so much more than is seen on the field and brought me so much joy”. So Rapinoe said she believed that “all kids, including transgender youth, should be able to participate in sports they love”.
On Friday (26 March), Tennessee became the third state to pass a bill banning trans girls from playing on school sports teams as their correct gender. It follows Arkansas and Mississippi in passing similar legislation, which is part of a tidal wave of anti-trans bills being debated across 25 states in the US.
Rapinoe called the bills “some of the most intense political assaults on LGBTQ people in recent years”. She added that sports have become “another avenue to attack” trans rights, and the anti-trans legislation causes “incredible harm” to trans youth who are “feeling isolated and need compassion and support”.
“These bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” Rapinoe argued. “Transgender kids want the opportunity to play sports for the same reasons other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong.”
Megan Rapinoe also dismantled the tired rhetoric that anti-trans bills are “protecting women”. She said: “As a woman who has played sports my whole life, I know that the threats to women’s and girls’ sports are lack of funding, resources and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay.”
“Trans people deserve dignity, respect and opportunity,” Rapinoe explained. “These bills are an attack on the humanity and belonging of trans people, and that’s why this issue is important to me as a member of the LGBTQ community.”
Megan Rapinoe said several women’s organisations – including the Women’s Sports Foundation, National Women’s Law Center and Gender Justice along with sports icons Billie Jean King and Candace Parker – “agree that transgender girls and women belong in sports and should be able to participate alongside other girls and women”.
She ended the article by saying that “discrimination hurts everyone” and that she wants trans kids to “know that they can live their dreams and be who they are”. Megan Rapinoe said: “We’re stronger as teams, and as a country, when all people who love sports have a chance to have their lives changes for the better, just like I did.”