40 professional athletes ask Congress to abandon federal anti-trans sports bill

Megan Rapinoe (15) of USA prepares corner kick during Tournament of Nations game against Australia at Pratt & Whitney stadium
Megan Rapinoe (15) of USA prepares corner kick during Tournament of Nations game against Australia at Pratt & Whitney stadium Photo: Shutterstock

Forty professional athletes have signed a letter opposing a piece of federal legislation seeking to ban trans women and girls from participating in women’s sports.

H.R. 734 was introduced by Rep. Gregory Steube (R-FL) as the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023.” It would amend Title IX regulations so that”individuals whose biological sex at birth was male” cannot “participate in programs that are for women and girls.”

Spearheaded by advocacy organization Athlete Ally, the letter’s signatories include LGBTQ+ greats like Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, Chris Mosier, and CeCe Telfer. It declares “that every child deserves to have their life changed for the better by being able to participate in the sport that they love. “

It acknowledged the “lifesaving power” of sports, explaining how the athletes found friends, confidence, life lessons, and a sense of self through their teams.

“Denying children access to a place where they can gain significant mental and physical health benefits and learn lifelong lessons that come from being part of a team and working hard towards your goals does not protect women in sports,” they said.

The athletes also pointed out that the bill could have negative repercussions on both trans and cisgender women.

“If this bill passes, transgender and intersex girls and women throughout the country will be forced to sit on the sidelines, away from their peers and their communities. Furthermore, 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.”

The letter concluded by encouraging lawmakers to focus on policies that would actually advance equality, such as “equal pay, an end to abuse and mistreatment, uneven implementation of Title IX, and a lack of access and equity for girls of color and girls with disabilities.”

They also warned that the bill will make trans and intersex kids feel “isolation, exclusion, and othering.”

This week, President Joe Biden has also been under fire for his administration’s proposed rule changes that would sometimes allow schools to discriminate against trans athletes in some cases.

Fourteen trans and nonbinary legislators from across the country sent a letter to Biden accusing him of “granting credence to false narratives around the supposed advantages of trans athletes” and perpetuating “unfounded and harmful claims.”

“There is no such thing as an acceptable ‘compromise’ that limits trans Americans’ access to equal rights,” the letter declared. “When it comes to policy addressing trans athletes, our stance is this: Trans athletes belong in sports. Full stop.”

The Department of Education (DOE)’s recently proposed a rule change to its Title IX regulations would allow K-12 schools and universities to limit the participation of transgender athletes in sports while also forbidding schools from completely banning trans athletes altogether.

The proposal is intended to promote “fairness in competition” and strike a compromise between trans advocates and those who support the trans athlete bans being enacted around the country. It would generally allow trans elementary school students to play on sports teams matching their gender identities.

So far, 21 states have passed anti-trans sports bans, though temporary injunctions are currently blocking them in Idaho, West Virginia, Indiana, and Utah.

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