Megan Rapinoe joins dozens of pro athletes to make powerful stand against trans sport ban

Megan Rapinoe

Lesbian football legend Megan Rapinoe is one of dozens of US sports stars calling on lawmakers to oppose a sweeping Florida ban on trans athletes. 

On Monday (10 April), 40 professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes signed an open letter opposing House Bill (HB) 734. 

The bill, also known as the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, was tabled by Florida Republican Greg Steube earlier this year. 

The legislation seeks to prohibit trans women and girls from taking part in sports which come under federally funded education programmes or activities, by making it a violation under Title IX. 

Title IX is a civil rights law that makes sex-based discrimination in schools illegal.

The 50-year-old law is currently at the centre of proposals by the Biden administration which seeks to prohibit all-out bans on trans athletes but still allow schools to bar them on “educational” grounds

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HB 734 is one of more than 400 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been brought forth in the US in the first few months of 2023 alone. 

“We believe that every child deserves to have their life changed for the better by being able to participate in the sport that they love,” the athletes’ letter read. 

They explain that participation in sports goes beyond what you do on the field and has positive impacts on physical and mental health, social life and development. 

“Sports have given us our greatest friends, taught us incredible life lessons and given us the confidence and drive to succeed in the world,” the letter went on to say. 

The bill will ‘deter’ cis and trans girls alike from sport

HB 734 will force trans and intersex women and girls “to sit on the sidelines, away from their peers and their communities”, they add. 

“The policing of who can and cannot play school sports will very likely lead to the policing of the bodies of all girls, including cisgender girls. This will deter girls from participating in sports and create additional barriers.” 

Rather than seeking to ban trans people who just want to take part, the group calls on Washington politicians to focus on issues that have an actual impact on women in sports, such as equal pay, abuse, and a lack of access for girls of colour and those with disabilities. 

“Our deepest hope,” the group concluded, “is that transgender and intersex kids will never have to feel the isolation, exclusion and othering that HR 734 is seeking to enshrine into law.” 

Alongside Rapinoe, who won gold with the US national team at the 2012 Olympics, Paralympic wheelchair basketball gold medalist Abby Dunkin, American Football star Johnny Stanton and Olympic rower Kendall Chase also signed the letter.

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