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Megan Rapinoe Laid Out Exactly Why Anti-Trans Sports Bans Are Cruel

Megan Rapinoe has been an incredibly influential advocate for equity in sports, recently helping lead U.S. Women’s Soccer toward equal pay. But as the anniversary of Title IX approaches, Rapinoe told Time that the 1972 legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sex in schools hasn’t meant total equity for all student athletes—particularly for transgender young people.

While Rapinoe called Title IX “transformational” legislation, she also noted that it likely has the same blindspots that exist in society. 

“I’m sure there’s a racial blind spot. I’m sure there’s an LGBTQ blind spot. I’m sure there’s an immigrant blind spot, all of that,” she said. “Title IX is also charged with handling sexual assault and rape on college campuses. We know that that is continuing to be rampant and underreported.”

As states across the country propose and pass legislation barring transgender students from school sports, Rapinoe said these laws aren’t about athletics, they’re about people’s lives.

“I think people also need to understand that sports is not the most important thing in life, right? Life is the most important thing in life. And so much of this trans inclusion argument has been put through the extremely tiny lens of elite sports,” she said. “Like that is not the way that we need to be framing this question. We’re talking about kids. We’re talking about people’s lives.”

Currently, 18 states ban transgender girls and women from sports teams that align with their gender, according to NBC News.

“[Trans youth] are [dying by] suicide, because they are being told that they’re gross and different and evil and sinful and they can’t play sports with their friends that they grew up with,” Rapinoe said. “Not to mention trying to take away health care. I think it’s monstrous.”

According to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 45% of the nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth surveyed said they seriously considered suicide in the past year. While there’s no one reason anyone considers suicide, the survey showed that trans and nonbinary youth who were supported were less likely to have suicidal ideation. And, the report found that anti-trans legislation has influenced young LGBTQ people’s mental health. Of the transgender and nonbinary youth surveyed, 83% said they’ve worried about trans people being denied the ability to play sports because of anti-trans legislation. 

“Recent political attacks aimed at transgender and nonbinary youth have not only threatened their access to health care, support systems, and affirming spaces at school, they’ve also negatively impacted their mental health,” Jonah DeChants, a research scientist at The Trevor Project said in the report.

Rapinoe also pointed out that banning trans students from sports teams isn’t based on evidence. While legislators say these laws are to protect the integrity of athletics, Rapinoe said inclusion doesn’t threaten integrity.

“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,” she said. 

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