Thursday, March 16, Athlete Ally - a nonprofit organization which raises public awareness to foster inclusive sports communities - published an open letter signed by various members of the athletic community in opposition to Texas’ anti-transgender bill, SB6. Out of over 55 members of the athletic community that signed the letter, five of them currently play in the NWSL while two are retired former members of the US Women’s National Team.
Hudson Taylor, the Executive Director of Athlete Ally, stated, “The athletic community refuses to be sidelined while the state of Texas debates anti-transgender bills like SB6. Today, the athletic community made it clear that SB6 is counter to the values of sport, and that all Texans — regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity — deserve equal respect and protection on the playing field, in the locker room, and under the law.”
Texas and SB6
SB6, also known as the “bathroom bill,” is similar to a law that passed in North Carolina last year. This bill states that restrooms and changing facilities in public spaces - such as public schools and government buildings - should be restricted and used by people of the same “biological sex.” Going a step further, the bill explains that “biological sex” refers to the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate.
If this bill were to pass, it would overrule any local transgender-friendly ordinances currently in place throughout the state, such as in cities like Dallas and Austin. People who support this bill claim that it’s for the “safety” of others - or keeping sexual predators out of their restrooms - and not an attempt to discriminate transgender people. Texas state senator Lois Kolkhorst, who sponsors and publicly supports the bill, has denied that it is an attempt to discriminate those who are transgender. An important aspect of the bill to note is that the word “transgender” is not found anywhere in the bill itself.
NWSL and former USWNT players openly oppose SB6
The current NWSL players that have signed this letter are Becca Moros, Mandy Laddish and Yael Averbuch of FC Kansas City, Beverly Yanez of the Seattle Reign and Joanna Lohman of the Washington Spirit. These five players are currently in preseason with their respective clubs ahead of the 2017 season. Former USWNT players Mary Harvey and Lori Lindsey also signed the letter. Harvey won the 1991 Women’s World Cup and earned gold in the 1996 Olympics as a goalkeeper for the United States. Lori Lindsey was a part of the 2011 Women’s World Cup squad as well as an alternate for the 2012 Olympics. She also participated in the NWSL from 2013-2014, spending two seasons with the Washington Spirit.
In the letter, these athletes - along with others - write:
“As members of the athletic community, we’re committed to upholding the very values that sport instills in each of us. Values like fair play, equality, inclusion and respect. We believe that everyone should be afforded the same access, opportunity, and experience both in sport and under the law. This is why we’re joining together to speak out against Senate Bill 6 (SB6), and the dozen more anti-LGBT bills already filed, and the harm they would do to the state of Texas, to the transgender community, and to the sports, we have come to know and love.”
In addition to women’s soccer players, current and former Major League Soccer players signed as well.
The full letter can be found on the Athlete Ally website. SB6 has been approved by the Texas Senate and will be sent to the Texas House for consideration.