Former USWNT member Lori Lindsey is sticking up for transgender athletes. The longtime midfielder penned an impassioned op-ed arguing against Idaho’s new anti-trans law, stressing the cruelty it needlessly inflicts on some of our most vulnerable children. As an openly gay woman, Lindsey says she feels a special responsibility to speak up.
Lindsey’s piece, which was published in the Indy Star, talks about the importance of inclusion on the athletic field for trans students, who are bullied at far higher rates than their cisgender peers. A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found trans students were more than four times as likely as other kids to suffer from at least one mental health condition.
“I’m openly gay and I remember what it feels like to be different,” Lindsey writes. “High school is hard enough for anyone, especially for LGBTQ youth; and it can be particularly difficult for transgender students, who often face high rates of bullying and harassment. Politicians shouldn’t make this worse by banning students from teams. Our laws should protect transgender youth, not discriminate against them.”
On March 30, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed HB500 into law — on Trans Day of Visibility, no less. The law bars transgender girls from participating in high school athletics in accordance to their gender identity. The ACLU sued Idaho on behalf of Lindsay Hecox, a trans runner who hopes to participate on the women’s track team at Boise State University. A judge ruled he will file an injunction or dismissal by Aug. 10.
The argument most often cited in favor of barring trans girls from competing in female athletics centers around their perceived competitive advantage. But the science shows that isn’t the case. There is no evidence trans women win competitions at higher levels than their cisgender counterparts, LGBT sports advocate Helen Carroll told Wired in a story last year.
Lindsey says she doesn’t think allowing trans girls and women to compete in women’s sports compromises competitive integrity at all. “As a woman, I wouldn’t support anything that could put me or my female colleagues and teammates at risk of losing opportunities or being denied access to scholarships and awards,” she writes. “Allowing transgender girls and women to share in the sport I love doesn’t pose a threat to anyone.”
In the op-ed, Lindsey also chronicles the exclusion she’s felt as a gay woman in sports. She enjoyed a remarkable soccer career, playing 17 seasons in the NWSL and playing for Team USA in the 2011 FIFA World Cup and serving as an alternate in the 2012 London Olympics. Still, Lindsey remained closeted until 2012, when she nonchalantly came out in an interview when asked about why she supports LGBTQ rights.
“Well, being a gay woman, I think it’s important,” Lindsey told Autostraddle.
Lindsey says soccer has been an instrumental part of her life, and journey to self-discovery. She could not imagine life without it, and believes trans students should be given the same chance. We are equal, after all.
“Playing soccer brought me lifelong friendships and a chance to live my dreams while doing what I love,” she writes. “No one should be denied that growth and happiness.”