Megan Rapinoe Says Laws Banning Transgender Athletes Are ‘Political Assaults' on LGBTQ Community
"Transgender kids deserve the same chances to enjoy sports; to gain confidence, self-respect and leadership skills; and to learn what it means to be part of a team," the USWNT star wrote in a new op-ed
Megan Rapinoe is speaking out against a number of new proposed bills and laws being passed around the country, which aim to block transgender students from playing on their school sports teams.
In a new op-ed, published in The Washington Post on Sunday, the U.S. Women's National soccer star says sports "shaped my life's path" as a child and that athletics "taught me so much more than is seen on the field and brought me so much joy."
"Every child deserves to have that experience," Rapinoe, 35, writes. "That's why I believe that all kids, including transgender youth, should be able to participate in sports they love."
Although President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January stating that "children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports," there have been dozens of state-level efforts from Republican lawmakers seeking to limit the transgender community's ability to participate in school sports.
A slew of bills being proposed around the country are seeking to ban transgender athletes from school teams that align with their gender identity, leading to widespread backlash from sports stars and equal rights advocates.
Republican lawmakers in more than 25 states have recently introduced bills that would ban transgender students from school sports teams, according to the Post.
Last week, Mississippi passed a law barring transgender women from playing high school and college sports. In Arkansas, the Post reports a similar measure is progressing that would ban transgender athletes from playing on teams that match their gender identity.
"These bills are some of the most intense political assaults on LGBTQ people in recent years," Rapinoe writes in her editorial about such legislation. "Sports have become another avenue to attack the rights of trans people. These efforts cause incredible harm to trans youth, who, like all kids in a global pandemic, are feeling isolated and need compassion and support."
Rapinoe, who has played on the USWNT since 2006 and currently also plays on OL Reign in Washington, says "these bills are attempting to solve a problem that doesn't exist."
"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," she writes, adding that "proponents of these bills argue that they are protecting women."
"As a woman who has played sports my whole life," Rapinoe continues, "I know that the threats to women's and girls' sports are lack of funding, resources and media coverage; sexual harassment; and unequal pay."
Rapinoe testified during a congressional hearing last Wednesday, speaking out against gender discrimination and equal pay disparities.
She and teammate Margaret "Midge" Purce later met with President Biden, 78, and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House to discuss the pay gap and other issues surrounding identity discrimination.
There, Rapinoe spoke out about the USWNT's efforts to eliminate gender discrimination in sports—including a 2019 lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation over unequal pay.