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MEGAN RAPINOE and common sense don’t get along very well. The women’s soccer star, famous for her political activism in favor of progressive and feminist ideas, came out against women athletes by defending the participation of biological men in women’s categories, using arguments that lack factual basis and anti-science.
In an interview with TIME magazine, the star of the women’s soccer team spoke about the participation of trans — biological male — athletes in women’s categories and stressed — falsely — that there is no evidence that there are men dominating women in different disciplines.
“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. So we need to start from inclusion, period,” said the soccer player, who blamed “the right wing” for allegedly polemicizing and pushing the debate about the possibility of women’s sports being dominated by trans athletes.
“Frankly, I think what a lot of people know is versions of the right’s talking points because they’re very loud. They’re very consistent, and they’re relentless,” she said.
Likewise, she also asserted that society must understand that, in this case, sport is not “as important” as “life” and therefore trans athletes’ participation in female competitions should be accepted because it could put the physical and mental health of trans athletes at risk.
“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. We’re talking about people’s lives. I’m sorry, your kid’s high school volleyball team just isn’t that important. It’s not more important than any one kid’s life.”
Megan Rapinoe and her fake feminism
The reality is that, first, what Megan Rapinoe says is false. There are indeed trans athletes dominating female categories, as were the well-known cases of New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard and swimmer Lia Thomas, who broke national records and positioned themselves in the elite of women’s sports while being really mediocre athletes in the men’s divisions.
Hubbard’s is, in fact, a clear example of how a trans athlete can unfairly sneak into the elite. The New Zealander, who enjoyed a masculine physical development in his puberty and adulthood, managed to play an Olympic Games having a defective technique (which is why he failed to transcend in the Olympics), many injuries in his physical history and a very advanced age (43 years old at the time) for the discipline of weightlifting. Clearly, Hubbard took the place of many young and talented New Zealand athletes who could have gone to the Tokyo Olympics had they not faced an athlete who simply had more strength than they did.
Lia Thomas is even more obvious: she swept almost every national championship she competed in and, when competing in the men’s divisions, she was ranked 463rd nationally; while in the women’s categories she rose to the top of the rankings.
What would happen to women’s sports if trans athletes multiply and start participating massively in both collective and individual games? They would simply have an advantage over the majority of biological women. And this is evidenced when FINA, the highest authority in the world swimming discipline, decided to ban the participation of trans athletes in women’s categories because it goes against the principles of fairness and sports justice.
Men, in puberty and also part of their adulthood, develop in a much more considerable way their muscles and bones than women; they become stronger and faster, with greater ability to lift, jump, throw or run. Clearly, in most sports, there is a biological advantage and it has been proven that the simple suppression of testosterone after making the gender transition does not reverse this advantage.
It is very hypocritical of Rapinoe to say that it is about defending lives and that sport is not very important, when she is in the last years of her career, not at risk of losing her sporting place. However, the swimmers who competed against Lia Thomas did lose sporting places and even the chance to win a medal, because they were simply competing against someone outside their level. That’s frustrating and unfair, plus there’s no telling how such a disappointment can affect the life of an athlete who is trying to reach the elite.
It’s ironic because, indeed, Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women’s national team were embarrassed in 2017 when a Under-15 boys’ youth team from FC Dallas beat them 5-2 in a friendly. In other words, the best women’s national team in the world, got hammered by some teenagers. At the elite level, they wouldn’t stand a chance.
Megan Rapinoe’s arguments in her interview with TIME are, first, manipulative. Because defending the competitiveness of women’s sport does not mean discriminating against trans athletes. FINA, for example, will create an open category for them to compete in a friendlier environment and according to their physical abilities. It is also openly “anti-science” because it simply ignores the cases where there are obvious physical advantages and forgets to analyze what could happen to women’s sport if trans athletes multiply their participation. And finally, it demonstrates the double standards of feminism, which claims to be a defender of women, but at the drop of a hat does not think twice about letting go of women’s own hands.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.