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U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has ripped into recent bans on transgender athletes participating in gender-based sports, calling them “disgusting.”
In an interview with Time magazine published on Sunday, Rapinoe said she “100%” supports the inclusion of transgender athletes, but emphasized that the issue extends beyond sports.
“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,” the 36-year-old told the magazine.
“And so much of this trans inclusion argument has been put through the extremely tiny lens of elite sports. Like, that is not the way that we need to be framing this question.”
Rapinoe noted the high risks of suicide among members of the LGBTQ community as states move to implement laws barring transgender athletes from competing in sports, among other measures.
“We’re talking about kids. We’re talking about people’s lives. We’re talking about the entire state government coming down on one child in some states, three children in some states,” Rapinoe added. “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. Not to mention trying to take away health care. I think it’s monstrous.”
Rapinoe, who plays professionally for the OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League, pushed back on the idea that transgender women in sports are taking opportunities away from their peers, noting that barring them from competing is “cruel” and “disgusting,” Time reported.
“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. So we need to start from inclusion, period,” Rapinoe said. “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.”
Rapinoe’s remarks come after FINA, the world’s largest swimming organization, said on Sunday that transgender female athletes are restricted from competing in the its tournaments for women, according to the organization’s new gender inclusion policy.
“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA president Husain Al-Musallam said in a statement.
Much of the controversy surrounding transgender athletes in swimming competitions centers around Lia Thomas, who became the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship title this year when she won the 500-yard freestyle race in the collegiate swimming championship.
Thomas’s historic win saw major pushback from conservatives, who have argued that transgender women should not be able to compete in NCAA events for women.