Soccer star and queer icon Megan Rapinoe testified at a House hearing on equal pay Wednesday (24 March), explaining that no one can “outperform inequality”.
Rapinoe, who led the US women’s football team to World Cup victory in 2019, has long been an outspoken advocate for equality in all its forms.
Speaking to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Equal Pay Day, at a hearing to “examine the long-term economic impacts of gender inequality”, Rapinoe said: “What we’ve learned, and what we continue to learn, is that there’s no level of status and there’s no accomplishment or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequality.
“One cannot simply outperform inequality, or be excellent enough to escape discrimination of any kind.
“I am here today because I know firsthand that this is true. We are told in this country that if you just work hard and continue to achieve, you will be rewarded, fairly.
“It’s the promise of the American dream. But that promise has not been for everyone.
“The United States women’s national team has won four World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals on behalf of our country. We have filled stadiums, broken viewing records, and sold out jerseys, all popular metrics by which we are judged.
“Yet despite all of this, we are still paid less than men – for each trophy, of which there are many, each win, each tie, each time we play. Less.”
She added: “If it can happen to us, and it can happen to me, with the brightest lights shining on us at all times, it can and it does happen to every person who is marginalised by gender.”
She explained that the problem not only lay in the pay disparity, but also in the lack of investment in women’s sports.
“With the lack of proper investment, we don’t really know the real potential of women’s sports,” she said.
“What we know is how successful women’s sports have been in the face of discrimination, in the face of gender disparity, in the face of a lack of investment on virtually every single level in comparison to men.”
Rapinoe called for immediate action, insisting: “We don’t have to wait. We don’t have to continue to be patient for decades on end. We can change that today, we can change that right now. We just have to want to.”
Megan Rapinoe also used her platform in congress to support trans athletes
Megan Rapinoe also seized the moment at the House hearing on equal pay to publicly reiterate her support for trans athletes.
She said: “As a member of the LGBTQ community I firmly stand with the trans family. As someone who has played sports with someone who is trans I can assure you all is well.
“Nothing is spontaneously combusting.”
In December, Rapinoe signed onto an amicus brief urging a federal appeals court to toss out an anti-trans bill pushed through by Idaho Republicans, banning schools and colleges from letting transgender girls from taking part in girls’ sports.
Athletes that signed onto the brief, including Billie Jean King, Becky Sauerbrunn, Candace Parker, Meghan Duggan, Layshia Clarendon and Katie Sowers, declared that they “dispute claims by proponents of Idaho’s discriminatory law that it somehow benefits women athletes”, and asserted that it “in fact, harms women athletes through exclusion, discrimination, and denial of the benefits that flow from participation in sport”.