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Megan Rapinoe on trans inclusion: ‘We’re talking about people’s lives’

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe says she is “100% supportive of trans inclusion” in sports.

Speaking with TIME, the 36-year-old invited readers to re-examine the debate around transgender athletes’ participation in competition.

“Show me the evidence that trans women are taking everyone’s scholarships, are dominating in every sport, are winning every title. I’m sorry, it’s just not happening,” Rapinoe told TIME. “So we need to start from inclusion, period. And as things arise, I have confidence that we can figure it out. But we can’t start at the opposite. That is cruel. And frankly, it’s just disgusting.”

Rapinoe’s interview was published in TIME on Sunday, the same day FINA, swimming’s world governing body, voted to enact a new policy restricting transgender participation in women’s elite competitions.

The veteran forward argues that the discussion on transgender participation in sports should shift and zoom out to consider the broader implications of banning or discouraging inclusion.

“So much of this trans inclusion argument has been put through the extremely tiny lens of elite sports. Like that is not the way that we need to be framing this question. We’re talking about kids. We’re talking about people’s lives,” Rapinoe said. “I would also encourage everyone out there who is afraid someone’s going to have an unfair advantage over their kid to really take a step back and think what are we actually talking about here.”

A survey released in May from The Trevor Project, an organization that provides mental health support for LGBTQ youth, showed an increase in rates of suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth, including a finding that 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide in the past year.

“Kids’ lives are at risk with the rates of suicide, the rates of depression and negative mental health and drug abuse. We’re putting everything through God forbid a trans person be successful in sports. Get a grip on reality and take a step back,” Rapinoe continued.

When asked about her role advocating for LGBTQ rights, Rapinoe spoke plainly, saying she is going to speak out for those who can’t.

“I’m gonna speak it loudly,” Rapinoe said, “and I think that that helps other people who maybe don’t have the ability to do that, or who aren’t in a place to do that quite yet.”

Note: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.