Lesbian football icon Lori Lindsey launches blistering attack on transphobes while defending the rights of trans girls to play sports
Retired footballer Lori “Lightning” Lindsey has written a blistering essay defending the inclusion of transgender women and girls in sports.
The World Cup and Team USA player rallied against Idaho’s horrific law banning trans student athletes from girls sports teams – the first and only law of its kind in the US – while passionately arguing for the right of all athletes to “have a chance to live their dreams like I did”.
“For some young people, that chance is at risk of being stripped away,” she wrote in an op-ed for the IndyStar, part of the USA Today network.
Under a law which came into effect July 1, any girl whose sex is “disputed” is required to show medical evidence of their “internal and external reproductive anatomy” – while pupils who believe they have been “disadvantaged” by their trans classmates are able to sue their schools for “injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available under law”.
The legislation is “a categorically unfair and antithetical assault to the values that sports should stand for”, Lindsey wrote.
“Anti-transgender activists claim that laws like [Idaho’s] will protect girls’ and women’s access to sport, but that’s far from the impact,” she continued.
Allowing transgender girls and women to share in the sport I love doesn’t pose a threat to anyone.
“Anti-transgender laws fail to address actual barriers in women’s sports such as a lack of resources and funding, lack of training and investment in women coaches, and lack of education about the unique benefits of supporting female players.
“Moreover, transgender girls are girls, and they should have the same opportunity as other girls to participate in sports and make lifelong friendships in a healthy way.
“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.
“Allowing transgender girls and women to share in the sport I love doesn’t pose a threat to anyone.”
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Lori Lindsey: ‘I’m gay and I remember what it feels like to be different.’
Lori Lindsey used her own experience of being a lesbian to empathise with trans women and girls in sport.
“I’m openly gay and I remember what it feels like to be different,” she said. “As recently as a decade ago, lesbian, gay, and bisexual athletes were similarly questioned about whether we were fit to play sports.
“We were perceived as potentially making other team members uncomfortable.
“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.”
She added that playing football brought her “lifelong friendships and a chance to live my dreams while doing what I love”.
No one should be denied that growth and happiness.
“No one should be denied that growth and happiness,” she said. “[I hope] transgender students are not banned from participating, and every young person has a chance to thrive.”
A friend of pink-haired lesbian icon Megan Rapinoe, the hero of 2019 and Sports Illustrated sportsperson of the year, Lindsey officially came out as gay in 2012.
This she did in the most casual of ways. Asked why she supported gay rights, in an interview with Autostraddle, she said: “Well, being a gay woman, I think it’s important.”
“My mom is also a lesbian,” she added. “So it’s always been a huge part of my family, and of me. I eventually came out when I was 20 or so.”
Lindsey played at the 2011 FIFA World Cup as part the US team that lost on penalties in the final with Japan. She was a reserve for the US women’s team at the 2012 London Olympics and retired in 2015.
She played women’s football at club, national and international level, including a stint playing for Australian team Canberra United, for 18 years in total. Now, she’s a sometime commentator for ESPN and Nike and a coach at the Washington Spirit Development Academy.