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Becky Sauerbrunn: ‘Stop hateful bills targeting transgender athletes’

(Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Becky Sauerbrunn called for an end to “hateful bills targeting transgender athletes” in an op-ed for a newspaper in her home state of Missouri.

Transgender women and girls are “not a threat to women’s sports,” the U.S. women’s national team captain wrote in the piece published Sunday by the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader.

The state Senate is considering legislation that would ban transgender girls from girls’ sports teams. While similar legislation failed last year, it has strong support this year, the Columbia Missourian newspaper reported.

Public high schools in the state already bar transgender girls from competing on girls’ teams unless they already have undergone at least a year of hormone therapy and are taking medication to maintain their hormone levels.

“The bills up for discussion in the Senate this week seek to solve a problem that simply doesn’t exist, and instead are sidelining youth from an outlet that brings them joy, connection and purpose,” Sauerbrunn wrote in her scathing rebuke.

Sauerbrunn, who has appeared in 212 games for the USWNT since 2008, has “faced countless challenges to gender equity in sport,” but the inclusion of transgender women and girls is not among them.

Rather, the 37-year-old defender sees in sports the space for growth and belonging. Sports have changed her life, according to Sauerbrunn, and “for many transgender kids and young adults, sports offer a similar opportunity to improve their lives.”

Meghann Burke, the executive director of the NWSL Players Association, expressed her support of Sauerbrunn’s message in a Twitter thread.

If legislators “want to take up the real threats to girls and women’s sports,” Burke wrote, they should look at “insufficient enforcement of Title IX; underinvestment in programs and facilities; inadequately trained and poorly vetted coaches… and legislators who distract from the real issues.”

Sauerbrunn identified several more issues as the true “needs and concerns of women in sports,” including protection from “rampant sexual assault and harassment,” the fight for equal pay and more.

“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 wrote. “I can’t stay quiet as transgender youth in my home state are targeted simply because they love sports as much as I do.”