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Pro soccer player voices criticism over Missouri bill to ban transgender athletes in women’s sports

Becky Sauerbrunn, a U.S. women’s soccer star who has won two FIFA World Cups and a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, made her stance clear on bills that would bar transgender girls from playing sports with biological females.

Sauerbrunn’s op-ed was published in the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri on Sunday morning and goes after a state bill that would bar transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams. The 37-year-old center back wrote she can “assure you that playing with or against transgender women and girls is not a threat to women’s sports.”

The soccer player cited the NCAA and International Olympic Committee’s rules for transgender athlete participation. The NCAA says transgender females must meet a certain testosterone threshold to be able to compete against biological females. The IOC put the onus on each individual sport to come up with transgender inclusion guidelines.

The Missouri bill, which restricts what teams transgender student-athletes can play on, could pass through the legislature later this year. Missouri’s current public high school sports rules already prohibit transgender girls from competing on girls teams unless they have undergone at least a year of hormone therapy and continue taking medication to maintain hormone levels. The rules also require transgender athletes to apply and submit documentation of medical care in order to compete as the gender they identify with.

The St. Louis native wrote the bills “don’t consider any of the actual challenges to women and girls in sport.” She called on lawmakers to focus on sexual assault and harassment in women’s sports instead.”The proposed ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ does nothing to protect or support girls and women in sports,” she wrote in the Springfield News-Leader. “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.”

She went on to note “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. 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.”

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