40 Athletes Just Signed a Letter Opposing a Federal Anti-Trans Sports Ban

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Instead of focusing on the national teacher shortage, gun violence in classrooms, or any of the other very real and horrifying issues plaguing the country’s school systems, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has been discussing a bill called H.R.734, which was introduced in February. This wrongheaded, discriminatory bill would ban trans children from playing on the teams that match their gender. This week, 40 athletes who play in professional leagues or compete in the Olympic or Paralympic Games signed a letter, dated April 10, that opposes the bill. Signatories include soccer star Megan Rapinoe and runners CeCe Telfer and Chris Mosier, the founder of TransAthlete.com.

The letter, published by Athlete Ally, exposes the bill for what it is: bigoted and cowardly. “We, the undersigned athletes, believe that every child deserves to have their life changed for the better by being able to participate in the sport that they love,” the letter says. “Right now, transgender and intersex human rights are under attack, with politicians…pushing forward H.R.734.” Many trans children are already discriminated against in schools daily—with teachers refusing to use their preferred names and pronouns or school staff threatening to out them to their families—and the focus on pushing them out of sports is only the latest assault on their rights. As of March, there were 56 bills being considered nationwide that would prevent trans kids from playing on sports teams, as SELF previously reported.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the bill has been backed by an anti-LGBTQ+ organization called Alliance Defending Freedom, which is a designated hate group by various public policy and legal institutions and other conservative organizations. The bill’s proponents seek to exclude trans people from activities that are integral to childhood development, as well as monitor everyone’s bodies, especially those of young girls.

Rapinoe has been protesting the bill on Twitter since the House committee met to discuss it in early March. “Call your Congressional rep today to say women’s sports need protection from unequal pay, sexual abuse & lack of resources, NOT from trans kids,” Rapinoe tweeted recently.

The letter stressed that, if passed, H.R.734 will rob kids of a normal childhood experience that everyone is entitled to—and, ultimately, have a domino effect on society more broadly. “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,” the athletes wrote. 

At the end of the letter, they urged lawmakers to oppose it: “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 authors lay bare the dangerous reality being considered: that H.R.734 will legalize transphobia and codify the exclusion of trans students in their communities.

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https://www.self.com/story/athlete-open-letter-hr734

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