Billie Jean King, Billy Bean, Renée Richards, Liz Carmouche, Greg Louganis, and many other high-profile LGBTQ athletes have San Diego roots. Last year, the entire San Diego Loyal Soccer Club walked off the field forfeiting their game after their openly gay player, Collin Martin, was subjected to an anti-gay slur and no action was taken against the player. Meanwhile transgender athletes like San Diegans Paulo Batista and Sam Moehlig are also inspiring out activists, carving a wider path for others to follow. Their pioneering presence in athletic spaces is ever more important as anti-LGBTQ extremists have found their latest targets: transgender athletes.
At the moment there are around 200 anti-LGBTQ bills working their way through legislative bodies across the country. 30 states have introduced anti-transgender pieces of legislation. Some of this legislation is aimed at denying access to life-saving health care, yet what seems to be getting a great deal of media attention are attacks on young trans athletes (particularly young trans girls) disguised as support for women in sports. We see right through their dehumanizing and dangerous lies and misinformation. You can stay up to date on the status of these bills and the #LetKidsPlay movement by following organizations and activists like Athlete Ally, Chase Strangio, Freedom for All Americans, LGBT Movement Advancement Project, and OutSports.
There are very real needs and ways to support women in sports, like equitable access and equal pay. The attacks we’re seeing on trans youth however is nothing more than the weaponization of trans exclusionary radical feminism to the demonization and harm of children for the sake of political posturing. These tactics are not new. For generations we have seen anti-LGBTQ extremists lie about our community and youth to stoke fear and violence against against us, from the times before the Briggs Initiative, to Prop 8, and now trans athletes.
With still relatively few out LGBTQ athletes in major league sports when compared to other industries, we know there is still much work to do. San Diego’s LGBTQ athletes have excelled in their respective sports while combating homophobia, transphobia, and HIV stigma for decades.
Much of the vital work left to be done to combat LGBTQ discrimination in athletic spaces includes protecting the most vulnerable of our population by stopping bullying and harassment in playgrounds, P.E., and youth programs.There is much left to fight for in the lives of LGBTQ athletes including having supportive parents, coaches, teachers, team owners, managers, fans in the stadium, and legislatures across the county. I hope you will take a personal and vocal stance in support of our transgender youth and their ability to play and live as freely as they chose. Their success and ability to thrive is a vital part of how our movement will remain Resilient.
Fernando Z. Lopez
P.S. Get involved with a local LGBTQ sports league. You can learn more about them here.