The soccer player and activist shared her thoughts on the controversial topic in a recent interview.
Advertisement
Close Up of Megan Rapinoe
Credit: Getty Images

Megan Rapinoe may be one of the most famous soccer players in the U.S., but she's also known for using her platform to help others. She's long been an inspiration to young female athletes and LGBTQ folks, and she notably led the U.S. Women's National Team in a fight for equal pay, alongside teammates, including Alex Morgan and Hope Solo. Most recently, she shared an important message about the need for transgender inclusion in sports during an interview with Time, offering much-needed perspective amid increasing legislation that targets trans youth athletes.

"I'm 100 percent supportive of trans inclusion," Rapinoe told the magazine. "People do not know very much about it. We're missing almost everything. I think people also need to understand that sports [are] 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 added. (Related: Mj Rodriguez Is 'Never Going to Stop' Advocating for Empathy Towards Trans Folks)

To back up a bit, there has long been controversy over how transgender athletes get to compete in sports, impacting regulations for colleges, professional leagues, and all the way up the Olympic Games. However, some states have taken action to limit or ban school-aged transgender students from participating in sports in public schools. For instance, in March 2022, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill requiring transgender kids who were playing sports to sit on teams corresponding to their assigned sex at birth, and this is just one of many bills currently targeting trans youth in sports. (Related: The Problematic Truth About Transgender Health Care Discrimination)

"In dozens of states across the country, there has been a concentrated effort to ban transgender athletes from participating in school sports on the teams that are consistent with who they are," Casey Pick, senior fellow for advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, previously told Shape. "This is being coordinated by national anti-LGBTQ organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose main objective is not to protect women and girls in sports, but rather to marginalize transgender and non-binary youth," explained Pick. 

Rapinoe gave an important reminder that the subjects of this type of legislature are children, not elite athletes. "We're talking about kids," she said to Time. "We're talking about people's lives. They are committing 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," added Rapinoe, calling attention to the fact that LGBTQ youth are at particular risk for developing mental health issues and considering suicide.

"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," said Rapinoe to Time. She also advocated for higher-level transgender athletes. "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." (Related: What People Always Get Wrong About the Trans Community, According to a Trans Sex Educator)

Inclusion is simply the path forward, both when it comes to transgender kids in sports and professional transgender athletes. "We need to start from inclusion, period," said the star athlete. "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."