Be it the issues of LGBTQ+ rights or equal pay, US Women’s National Team (USWNT) star Megan Rapinoe has never been afraid of standing up for what she believes in.
And now on the eve of her final Women’s World Cup, Rapinoe has taken aim at recent policies that aim to ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports.
“We as a country are trying to legislate away people’s full humanity,” she told Time magazine in an interview.
“It’s particularly frustrating when women’s sports is weaponized. Oh, now we care about fairness? Now we care about women’s sports? That’s total bulls**t. And show me all the trans people who are nefariously taking advantage of being trans in sports. It’s just not happening,” said Rapinoe, who over the weekend announced she would retire from professional soccer at the end of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season.
In recent months, transgender women’s participation in a number of sports has been prohibited with the introduction of new regulations.
In March, World Athletics (WA) announced new rules banning some from competing in female track and field events.The latest regulations prohibit athletes who have gone through what WA calls “male puberty” from participating in female world rankings competitions. WA said the exclusion would apply to “male-to-female transgender athletes who have been through male puberty.”
Meanwhile, multiple US states have passed legislation restricting trans youths’ access to the hormone therapies known as “puberty blockers” – meaning some trans girls will be forced to undergo the very “male puberty” that would now prevent them from competing in WA events.
In April, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a Republican-led bill that would ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports at federally funded schools and educational institutions.
While the bill is not expected to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has issued a veto threat, it shows that Republicans are working to spotlight the issue – and it comes amid a GOP-led push in states across the country to pass similar bills restricting transgender athletes’ participation in sports. The final vote was 219-203 down strict party lines.
The House bill would prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. It seeks to amend federal law to require that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth,” for the purpose of determining compliance with Title IX in athletics, according to the legislative text.
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive funding from the federal government, and applies to schools and other educational institutions.
In April, the Biden administration released a policy statement about the bill that read, in part, “At a time when transgender youth already face a nationwide mental health crisis, with half of transgender youth in a recent survey saying they have seriously considered suicide, a national law that further stigmatizes these children is completely unnecessary, hurts families and students, and would only put students at greater risk.”
However, the issue of transgender athletes has become a divisive issue across the world and Rapinoe says the discourse around the topic can have real life implications.
“I don’t want to mince words about it,” Rapinoe explained in her interview with Time. “[Comedian] Dave Chappelle making jokes about trans people directly leads to violence, whether it’s verbal or otherwise, against trans people.”
At the time, Chappelle responded to criticism he received for his remarks, saying he would meet with members of the trans community, but would not be “bending to anybody’s demands.”
Rapinoe advocates a more inclusive approach to sports, saying that she would “absolutely” welcome a transgender woman onto the USWNT.“‘You’re taking a “real” woman’s place,’ that’s the part of the argument that’s still extremely transphobic,” Rapinoe told Time. “I see trans women as real women. What you’re saying automatically in the argument – you’re sort of telling on yourself already – is you don’t believe these people are women. Therefore, they’re taking the other spot. I don’t feel that way.”
Rapinoe added: “The most amazing thing about sports is that you play and you’re playing with other people, and you’re having fun and you’re being physically active.
“We’re putting this all through the lens of competition and winning. But we’re talking about people’s lives. That’s where we have to start.”