Lesbian soccer star Megan Rapinoe has dedicated her honor as one of Time’s 12 Women of the Year to the transgender community.
“I am only here because of them,” Rapinoe said at Thursday’s Women of the Year gala, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Timereports. “We all know what’s going on in our country with the attempted erasure of trans people.”
That includes hundreds of bills introduced in state legislatures around the nation — and several that have been passed into law — to ban gender-affirming care for trans youth or bar trans athletes from playing on the school sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Many of the latter are aimed specifically at trans females and are often presented under the disingenuous guise of “saving women’s sports,” but Rapinoe, one of the most prominent cisgender women in sports, made clear that she’s a supporter of trans inclusion in all aspects of life.
“The way they refuse to live their life any other way than completely whole is so inspiring. I’m inspired by the invitation to be completely myself,” Rapinoe said of trans people. “They offer us a full view of what it means to be a human in the world. A whole opportunity to be the crazy-ass human beings that we are. That’s a great gift.”
Rapinoe’s teams have won the World Cup twice, and she has advocated for equal pay for women athletes and for LGBTQ+ and women’s rights generally. But she acknowledged that the women’s movement hasn’t always been inclusive.
“White women have left Black women — and everyone else — behind,” she said. “Straight women leave queer women behind.”
“Let’s not be those kinds of people,” she added. “Being a woman: Make it expansive. Don’t ever leave anybody behind. … Let’s bring everyone in and figure the rest out from there.”
Time' s other Women of the Year are Ukrainian LGBTQ+ rights activist Olena Shevchenko; Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who has spoken out against oppression in her country; Mexican abortion rights activist Verónica Cruz Sánchez; Suntory Beverages CEO Makiko Ono, an advocate for women in business; Anielle Franco, Brazil’s minister of racial equality; professional boxer Ramla Ali, a refugee from Somalia and activist for Muslim women; Ayisha Siddiqa, a poet and advocate for climate justice and human rights; Quinta Brunson, creator and costar of Abbott Elementary; queer singer and abortion rights advocate Phoebe Bridgers; and actors Cate Blanchett and Angela Bassett, both nominated for Academy Awards this year. Blanchett is also a goodwill ambassador for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.