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Soccer Legend Megan Rapinoe Hits Back at Cruel Trans Sports Bans

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Bronze medalist Megan Rapinoe of Team United States reacts with their bronze medal during the Women's Football Competition Medal Ceremony on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at International Stadium Yokohama on August 06, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

In a recent interview with TIME Magazine on gender and sports, soccer star Megan Rapinoe reaffirmed her support of LGBTQ+ rights, particularly in regard to the recent wave of attacks against transgender athletes. Within the world of sports, she’s known for various records and firsts. However, to the wider public, she became known as the first “out” women’s soccer player in 2012. As time passed and more people became comfortable coming out, she became more outspoken in advocating for pay parity and queer rights.

In a question regarding this big challenge of being an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, Rapinoe spoke to the need to balance staying educated on a topic with also speaking plainly for those still on the fence. She went on to point out that there is a handful of people spreading misinformation very consistently and relentlessly. Rapinoe touched on the regulatory bodies within sports but also encouraged people to think beyond these committees for a moment:

I would also encourage everyone out there who is afraid someone’s going to have an unfair advantage over their kid to really take a step back and think what are we actually talking about here.

She consistently came back to the concept of humanity, understanding, and recognition that these restrictions and further policing of trans people (citing access to healthcare) will lead to mental health issues and self-harm. Both of these are linked to a lack of acceptance and feeling of safety among queer youth.

Show me the evidence that trans women are taking everyone’s scholarships, are dominating in every sport, are winning every title. I’m sorry, it’s just not happening. So we need to start from inclusion, period. And as things arise, I have confidence that we can figure it out. But we can’t start at the opposite. That is cruel. And frankly, it’s just disgusting.

So, we need to really kind of take a step back and get a grip on what we’re really talking about here because people’s lives are at risk. Kids’ lives are at risk with the rates of suicide, the rates of depression and negative mental health and drug abuse. We’re putting everything through God forbid a trans person be successful in sports. Get a grip on reality and take a step back.

Why does it matter that she speaks up?

It’s not just important that Rapinoe and other high-profile cis women athletes (like her basketball star partner Sue Bird) speak up about this because it shows that there is no looming threat to the “integrity” of women’s sports by including trans women. After all, cis women are the ones who these bigots claim to be protecting (a claim, as she said, not backed by any evidence). It also matters because they have a large platform and are advocating for all women in sports, full stop.

Women (particularly Black and brown stars like South African runner Caster Semenya) are already highly scrutinized for their bodies. What is considered “perfect genetics” for a particular sport, for a man, is cause for extra scrutiny and medical tests required of women. In addition to the pressures of the sport, women athletes endure the insults that come with training their bodies for the best performance. These insults include questions about their “real” gender.

@erininthemorn The story of the 1996 Olympics and the end to sx testing. #trans #transrights #women #womensrights #lgbt #lgbtq ♬ original sound – ErinInTheMorning

Rapinoe and others are the most visible and are using that power to keep sports welcoming and inclusive. This is much-needed support considering how common it is to see women with supposedly progressive politics (TERFs) using the same methods of harm put onto them by men.

(via TIME, featured image: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time watching movies, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Balder's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO.