Olympic athletes visited the White House on Friday to meet with Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Two athletes who skipped the Olympic White House visit were figure skater Adam Rippon and skier Gus Kenworthy.
Kenworthy tweeted, “All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games. Today is this year’s visit and USOC spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real.”
Rippon added,” Olympians from the 2018 Games have been invited to go to the White House today. I will not be going. I will not stand with people who discriminate against those that they perceive as different. In lieu of going to DC, I have donated to a few of my favorite causes.”
In addition to Rippon and Kenworthy, Lindsey Vonn, Erin Hamlin and Chloe Kim also declined to attend the Olympic White House visit.
Kenworthy clapped back at haters, who claimed that the pair of out athletes shouldn’t get government funds since they boycotted the White House event. Kenworthy wrote, “To those saying @Adaripp and I shouldn’t get gov’t funding since we skipped the White House visit: WE DON’T! Absolutely $0. The US is one of the only countries that doesn’t pay a penny to it’s Olympic team to train/ compete. All money comes from sponsors and private donations…”
Kenworthy’s fact checking response got a lot of support from fans. Out diver Greg Louganis added, “Most people are [sic] misinformed about how athletes finance themselves: family, friends, and if we are lucky, a sponsor or two. US Athletes are pretty much on our own. Love you and @Adaripp, @greglouganis.”
Rippon doubled down on his decision to boycott after Trump made a tone-deaf comment regarding the Paraolympics. Trump said at the event, “What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me. And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.”
Rippon wasn’t a fan of the comment, and tweeted, “Current mood: Having no regrets about missing this trip.”
Trump and Pence continue to support anti-LGBT legislation, specifically targeting the transgender community. The latest blow to the trans community came after the rewriting of a federal rule that bars discrimination in health care based on “gender identity.”
“The proposed rollback does fit into a pattern of transphobia and anti-LGBT sentiment in this administration,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization.
Gonzalez-Pagan lists Trump’s call to bar military service by transgender people, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memo concluding that civil rights laws don’t protect transgender people from discrimination on the job and the override of Obama-era guidance that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms that matched their gender identities as all part of this pattern.
Rippon and Kenworthy decision to boycott the White House visit is necessary. We’re proud that two out athletes are using their platform to resist the current anti-LGBT policies being endorsed by the current administration. Especially since most of this discrimination is being focused on perhaps the most marginalized and voiceless part of our community, our trans sisters and brothers.