The movement around Jenni Hermoso has reached the NWSL.

In the wake of Hermoso being forcibly kissed by Luis Rubialies, president of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF), during Spain’s World Cup gold medal ceremony, players on the San Diego Wave and the Orlando Pride wore wristbands of support for Hermoso during their game.

“Contigo Jenni,” read the wristbands.

San Diego forward Kyra Carusa said the gesture was an act of solidarity.

“We wanted to show our support and standing with the Spanish national team and what they have been having to go through,” Carusa told the media. “Having to face what they have to face right now and being brave and strong enough to say something. We want to stand with them.”

After the game, Wave players held up a white T-shirt that read: “We stand with Jenni.”

The gestures echoed a statement earlier in the day from NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman.

“As leaders of leagues, federations and governing bodies, we must protect our players. The actions by the Spanish federation are unconscionable and a reminder that there’s still work to do,” Herman wrote on X. “We stand with Jenni Hermoso and any players who face inappropriate behavior or abuse.”

The Wave also took the game in Florida as an opportunity toprotest the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” policy. Players arrived in Orlando wearing shirts that read “Just say” on the front and “Gay” on the back. Wave coach Casey Stoney, one of the most outspoken voices in the league, was also wearing one of the shirts.

The Wave won the game 2-1, after Carusa’s 75th minute goal broke a tie.

Ahead of the OL Reign’s Pride match against the Kansas City Current on Saturday, Reign midfielder Quinn spoke out about the NWSL’s current policy on transgender athletes.

“Although I’m happy to see more teams in the NWSL lean into Pride, the lack of conversation surrounding the problematic transgender inclusion policy shocks me,” Quinn wrote as part of a series of tweets Friday.

The NWSL’s policy on transgender athletes, which was published two years ago, was criticized from day one for relying on testosterone levels and for failing to include policies regarding nonbinary athletes. The NWSL also took heat for releasing the restrictive policy on Transgender Day of Visibility in 2021, something Quinn called out Friday as “disrespectful.”

Quinn, who in 2021 became the first openly trans and nonbinary athlete to win an Olympic medal, said they hope the league “can find space during their celebrations this month to understand and educate themselves on the limitations of their policy.”

Quinn’s comments come amid a continued onslaught of legislation targeting transgender individuals. Since the start of 2021, more than 20 U.S. states have passed legislation restricting or banning transgender athletes from playing sports at the K-12 or collegiate level. In recent months, gender-affirming health care has become the new target, with 20 states enacting bans or imposing significant restrictions on this type of medical care.

Of the 12 NWSL teams, four — the Houston Dash, Kansas City Current, Orlando Pride, and Racing Louisville — are located in states where lawmakers have banned trans girls and women from playing school sports.

At the same time, Washington state — where Quinn has played professionally for the OL Reign since 2019 — has enacted legal protections for trans youth. In May, OL Reign hosted a clinic for gender diverse youth and their families. In a tweet, the club said it was working “to make Washington the most inclusive place for youth to play soccer in the United States.”

Many individual NWSL players have used their platforms to advocate for trans rights. In April, 12 current NWSL players were among a group of athletes who wrote a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging lawmakers to oppose H.R. 734 — also known as the “Protection of Girls and Women in Sports Act” — and asking them to instead champion “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.”

Yet while individual players and teams have spoken out about trans rights, the league as a whole has not addressed the topic head on. The NWSL’s 2023 Pride Campaign, unveiled Thursday, features “refreshed Pride imagery” that includes the five-striped white, pink and blue trans flag, but doesn’t directly address trans rights or its own policy on transgender athletes.

Happy Pride Month!

Every day at Just Women’s Sports, we strive to shine a spotlight on athletes and fans who have historically been relegated to the sidelines. It’s never lost on us that LGBTQI+ athletes are an integral part of women’s sports — the past, the present and the future of the space.

This month, in addition to the highlights, features and power rankings you’ve come to know and love, we’re highlighting those who have played through adversity in order to make this world a more inclusive place. These are the queer athletes who have changed sports for good simply by putting on a uniform and refusing to be anyone but themselves. 

In recognition of what this month stands for, we’ve also commissioned a T-shirt designed to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community and elevate the visibility of all athletes competing in women’s sports.

Each shirt is individually hand-dyed to signify the uniqueness of our personal identities as athletes, fans, and allies, working to create an even playing field for all.

The shirt is available in our merch store with all proceeds going to Athlete Ally, a leading national nonprofit working to champion LGBTQI+ inclusion in sports.

For our rainbow of supporters out there, we see you and we thank you.

As we say here at JWS, love who you want… and watch women’s sports.