I was a division 3 female athlete on a women’s soccer team which was part of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Conference. I was definitely a bench player but still got to participate/travel/practice etc. Even though I did not have top notch skills, I appreciated being able to be part of the team and find my niche in college. I love the experience and loved being able to continue participating in the sport I’d been playing all my life.

I was part of a club soccer program in my youth/early high school years in which we competed internationally. Our coach thought that having boys participate on our in-squad game days would help improve our skills. The stipulation would be they would only have two touches before they had to pass the ball to a female. It was all monitored closely by our coaches with the purpose of focused training on the females and not the males.

If biological men are able to make the women’s teams, where would a player like me be? I would have been booted to make room for men and the women who deserved to be on the field would have been replaced by higher performing men. It’s hard enough to get women’s sports taken seriously, now our category almost looks like the butt of a joke.

I graduated in 2019 and it wasn’t even a thought in our minds that a male could participate in our category for our sport. Truly this is a recent phenomenon, actually a recent violation in women’s sports that threatens the integrity of our play.

The USWNT in the past decade has made huge advancements in widespread engagement and appreciation for a female sport. All that effort has made me proud to not only have been a women’s soccer player, but proud to be an athletic woman in general. The USWNT has held a standard of excellence for the sport that is only attainable by the best of the best of women soccer athletes, something that would be diminished if biological males decided to count themselves in our sport category. This hasn’t happened yet in the sport of soccer (for what is currently reported), but it is sad to see that it happened for the prestigious sport of swimming.