U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) player Becky Sauerbrunn penned an op-ed in which she takes lawmakers in her home state of Missouri to task for proposing a law that will prohibit biological male athletes who identify as females from competing in women’s sports.
In the Springfield News-Leader on Sunday, Sauerbrunn asserts that “playing with or against transgender women and girls is not a threat to women’s sports.”
“The proposed ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ does nothing to protect or support girls and women in sports,” Sauerbrunn wrote. “If those putting forth this legislation actually listened to the needs and concerns of women in sports, they would outline clear steps to protect women and girls from the rampant sexual assault and harassment plaguing sports — issues we’ve been fighting in the NWSL. They would clarify what’s being done to ensure all institutions in Missouri are Title IX compliant. They would outline a plan to promote equal pay for women athletes. They would ensure young women and girls have equitable resources in sport, especially young women and girls of color. Instead, they’re pushing kids away from the life-changing power of sports, forever depriving them of the invaluable lessons sport teaches, and the best friends they would find on their teams.”
Of course, one could credibly make the case that protecting females from assault and harassment is one of the chief aims lawmakers are trying to accomplish with their legislation. There have been multiple proven and alleged incidents of transgender persons harassing or assaulting biological females in the locker rooms and swimming pools within states that allow males identifying as females to mix with females.
“I have been championing gender equity in sport for a long time, and I am done seeing transgender youth being cruelly targeted to score political points,” Sauerbrunn continued. “Transgender people are exactly that, people — not tools to be wielded in a climb up the political ladder. I’m not alone ― hundreds of other elite women athletes from Billie Jean King to Candace Parker have consistently expressed loud opposition to bills almost identical to the ones being heard in the Missouri Senate. Thousands of college athletes have signed letters supporting transgender athletes and against discriminatory bills like these.”
On the other hand, several prominent female athletes have also opposed allowing males to compete against females. For example, on Sunday, pro surfer Bethany Hamilton took issue with the World Surf League’s new policy of allowing transgender athletes to compete in the women’s division by announcing that she would not compete in any events that included men.
@bethanyhamilton Speaks Out Against New World Surf League Transgender Policy!
"Does this better the sport of surfing? Is this better for the women in surfing? If so, how?" pic.twitter.com/W850jZlnWg
— BRAVE Story Hour (@BraveBooksUS) February 5, 2023
In addition, tennis legend Martina Navratilova and British swimming champion Sharron Davies have also been outspoken in their opposition to allowing trans competitors in the women’s division.
Though, in addition to trans athletes posing an obvious physical threat to females in locker rooms, Sauerbrunn’s claim that male athletes wouldn’t pose a threat to women’s sports in general also falls short of the mark, as Sauerbrunn herself should know.
In 2017, the under-15 boys team affiliated with MLS organization FC Dallas thrashed the U.S. Women’s National Team by a score of 5-2.
If a squad of boys undergoing early puberty can overwhelm one of the best adult female soccer teams in the world, how could the inclusion of biological male athletes be anything short of disastrous for the female athletes they’re competing against?
And it isn’t as if the threat to females is only a lopsided scoreboard, either. In December of last year, a male player at a transgender hockey tournament concussed a female opponent when he barely collided with her near the bench.
“Get a stretcher! Get a medic!”
Words heard at the first NHL All-Trans Draft Tournament after a male player casually bumps into a female player. The contact doesn’t look serious on video. But the size diff between players is so great that the female suffers a concussion. pic.twitter.com/U4y0huo0oA
— mazeks (@mazeksjj) December 9, 2022
Sauerbrunn is 37 years old, won two World Cups, and is approaching the end of her career. It’s easy for her to write this because she’s won her fame and fortune, and the likelihood of a male athlete coming onto the USWNT and forcing her out before she is forced out by age is relatively small.
But if lawmakers follow her advice, the risk for generations of girls after her couldn’t be more disastrous.
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