Megan Rapinoe is one of 40 U.S. athletes who on Monday urged House lawmakers to oppose a bill that would effectively ban transgender athletes from competing in girls' and women's sports. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo
April 11 (UPI) -- Dozens of American athletes have called on House lawmakers to oppose legislation that would ban transgender and intersex girls and women from sports, saying "every child deserves to have their life changed for the better by being able to participate in the sport that they love."
The letter was sent Monday to House lawmakers and published online by nonprofit organization Athlete Ally in opposition to House Bill 734, better known as the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023.
Introduced earlier this year by Republican Rep. Greg Steube of Florida, the bill would make it a violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools, for federally funded education programs or activities to allow those born male from participating in sports designated for women and girls.
While supporters of such bills view them as a way to protect the integrity of girls' and women's sports, LGBTQ advocates have for years railed against these GOP-backed efforts as attacks on the transgender community.
On Monday, 40 professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes sided with the LGBTQ advocates, stating transgender and intersex human rights were under attack by politicians pushing H.R. 734.
"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," the athletes said. "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."
The athletes continued that policing who can and cannot play school sports will likely lead to policing the bodies of all girls and will deter them from being athletes and create further barriers.
"We believe that gender equity in sport is critical, which is why we urge policymakers to turn their attention and effort to the causes women athletes have been fighting for decades, including 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, to name only a few," they said.
"Our deepest hope is that transgender and intersex kids will never have to feel the isolation, exclusion and othering that H.R. 734 is seeking to enshrine into law."
The letter was signed by prominent U.S. athletes, such as retired soccer star Megan Rapinoe, retired hockey star and current director of player development for the New Jersey Devils Meghan Duggan and former basketball star Sue Bird.
It was sent to House lawmakers after the Biden administration last week also outlined a rule change that would limit the ability of schools and athletic associations to enact bans on transgender student athlete participation.
Twenty states, including Texas, Florida and Arizona, have already passed laws banning transgender youth from participating in schools sports designated for girls and women, according to the independent nonprofit think tank Movement Advancement Project.