The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) won the 2022 SheBelieves Cup on Wednesday night in Frisco, Texas, with a statement-making 5-0 win over Iceland. But it was the team’s message of support for transgender youth that they hope is just as big a takeaway.
Just a day after USWNT players reached a $24-million equal pay settlement with U.S. Soccer, multiple players – including forward Catarina Macario, who scored twice during the matchup, team captain Becky Sauerbrunn, Andi Sullivan, Kristie Mewis, and Midge Purce – wore white wristbands during the game fashioned from tape that bore the words, “Protect trans kids.”
The wristband messaging was in response to a letter sent Wednesday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In the letter, Abbott urges employees and licensed professionals to report transgender children and their parents to state authorities, who are directed to investigate gender-confirming care as child abuse.
Prior to kickoff, Sauerbrunn posted a tweet alluding to Abbott’s letter with a call to action, “To deny gender-affirming resources to trans kids and to threaten their parents and guardians with claims of child abuse is MONSTROUS. If you want to help, support groups like @EqualityTexas.”
To deny gender-affirming resources to trans kids and to threaten their parents and guardians with claims of child abuse is MONSTROUS.
— Becky Sauerbrunn (@beckysauerbrunn) February 24, 2022
Macario shared that it was USWNT star Megan Rapinoe – who did not compete in the 2022 SheBelieves tournament – who alerted players to the day’s developments in Texas. Macario said they hoped the wristband messaging would help raise awareness and support for trans youth, especially in light of the fact they were playing in Texas.
“With the platform we have, we really wanted to showcase why this team is so different and why we do things that are much bigger than just the game,” Macario told media after the win.
— Meredith Cash (@mercash22) February 24, 2022
Added the tournament MVP Macario, “I tried my best to make sure every time I scored that everyone could see it – that it wasn’t just another thing (swept) under the rug.”
Also scoring twice Wednesday night was Mallory Pugh, with Mewis adding the fifth goal in the 88th minute. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy made one save for the U.S. women in what marked their 17th straight home shutout.