When I was nine years old in 1980, I saw a copy of Sports Illustrated (SI) “Swimsuit Edition” hidden behind a brown wrapper in my neighborhood drugstore. I had seen the regular edition in there every month; always a football player, a male basketball star, a male hockey player, always a man on the cover.

I don’t recall seeing Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Nadia Comăneci, or Cathy Rigby. I knew those names and faces from the T.V., but they were never on the cover of SI. But, one month each year, a nearly-naked woman would be [on the cover] and the whole thing would be scantily-clad women laying around doing nothing–not athletes.

I got fed up and I wrote to SI to complain that they never had women in their magazine for sports. Where was the half-naked sexy men? Why were women treated like this?

In high school, I staged walk-outs of football pep rallies and basketball pep rallies because girls sports were never, ever showcased. I was not an athlete, I was clumsy and I loved to play hoops but I was very short. But, my friends were all athletes and were never given the opportunity to shine in a pep rally or would never get to be athletes on the cover of SI.

I wrote to SI to complain about their degrading, one-sided baloney. Years later, I had two sons and we ate at the local Meatheads hamburger stand. There, they had a huge wall that said, “CHAMPAIGN URBANA’S STAR ATHLETES” which showcased all the football scores and basketball scores for boys. I told them that 1980 called, and they’d better get some girls’ scores up there now or I was going to lead the largest protest and media blitz they ever saw. They got girls’ sports up right away!

As girls and women, we are taught to be aware of rape and attacks in at night, in parking lots, elevators, and the bathroom. Now, we are told to put up with males in our private spaces. We are told science matters, and then we are told it’s equal to compete physically against a male.

Our voices are being silenced. We are being wiped off the board once again. This needs to stop. We women have always been allies to transgender identified people but now it’s their turn to be our allies and be fair. It is time for them to hear our concerns and help us be and feel safe.