Kelsey Trainor And Human Rights Campaign Ready T O Invest In All Women

The Human Rights Campaign has announced their partnership with women’s sports advocate Kelsey Trainor to launch anew merchandise line dedicated to empowering women.

All women.

Last week, I had the chance to talk with Trainor about her latest collaboration and what she hopes this means for the ongoing fight to protect trans girls and women in sports.

“Invest pay higher has started in the sports space, but sports are a microcosm of society. So it felt like a really organic way to spread this message while still being in the sports space, but also reaching a broader audience,” Trainor said in a phone conversation last week.

Trainor’s slogan “Invest in Women. Pay Women. Hire Women” can be found at sporting events throughout the world. From the sidelines with South Carolina Women’s Basketball coach Dawn Staley to center court in New Zealand, the message resonates with people. While sports has been the hook, Trainor has always seen her motto as a way to engage in deeper systemic and societal issues.

Her move to partner with the Human Rights Campaign was intentional given the rise in legislation across the United States deemed harmful to transgender individuals.

“The Human Rights Campaign is thrilled to participate in this collaboration for Women’s History Month—it is paramount that we invest in women in all facets of society as we work toward liberation for all — without exception. Let me make one thing clear: trans women are women, trans girls are girls,” Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President, shared with me in an email statement about the release.

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“Girls and women are under attack, and politicians and the media are targeting the most vulnerable in our community. The pivot to attacking trans girls and trans women in sports is yet another front in the anti-LGBTQ+ agenda – and it’s discriminatory. All trans athletes deserve to play freely and safely in sport,” Chantel Mattiola, HRC Women LEAD Co-Founder, shared with me via email.

“Kelsey’s message — Invest in Women — is at the core of HRC Women LEAD’s mission. HRC Women LEAD is an ongoing initiative that is focused on engaging and activating equality-minded women and non-binary people in the fight for LGBTQ+ equality.”

To that end, this collaboration will include activations to educate voters about current laws and support election campaigns of what Mattiola called pro-equality women and non-binary candidates. For Trainor, the partnership gives her the opportunity to engage the sports community and other influential people in this critical work.

“I’d love to bring more athletes voices into HRC the work that they’re doing, Trainor said. “Whether it’s fighting LGBTQ plus community, fighting legislation across the country from bans on gender affirming health care, forced outing – right now, the legislation in Tennessee banning drag shows, making it one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ states in the country – a massive goal is to bring noise and loudness to that fight.”

I asked Kelsey if she was concerned that the prior popularity of her brand raised concerns for her or others that people who’ve supported her merchandise before will not be ready or willing to join her at the intersectionality of trans rights.

“No, not one bit,” Trainor said. She did receive advice to explain, or for some justify, her new partnership and the conscious choice to elevate and include trans women. However, that was far from a hardship.”

“This is where I stand, this is what my merch and this message stands for. And that’s that it was it was not hard, Trainor told me. Yet, in hindsight, Trainor realized she could have been more explicit on her stance earlier on.

“Maybe, naively, I thought that was a given, but obviously not. When you’re presented with something that’s showing you that maybe it’s not a given, it’s not apparent, that it’s totally inclusive, absolutely correct it. Make sure that it’s known.”

Trainor joins the likes of athletes like Layshia Clarendon (he/she/they), currently playing their first season in Athletes Unlimited Basketball in Dallas, as active advocates for trans rights in sports and society.

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In the fall, Clarendon, who is the WNBA’s first openly nonbinary and transgender player, told me he had concerns about playing professionally in a state where transgender rights and women’s rights were subject to legislation. When I followed up, she told me playing in Dallas is a rebellious act.

“There’s always a big debate about to play in these states or not to play. And I ultimately and looking at it, I’m not going to actually flip you guys off right now. But like as a big F-U to all the people who don’t think I should play in sports or belong in sports or, my uterus should have any rights,” Clarendon said during a video conference with Athletes Unlimited last month.

“We know there are a lot of laws that I think really don’t align with the values of AU, from what I understand. And to have that kind of be one of our big protests to say we’re here. We’re queer. And we’re not going anywhere.”

Clarendon has been active with the WNBA, including a campaign to oust former Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler, opening a path for former WNBA champion Renee Montgomery to join the new ownership team. Trainor finds the WNBA to be a model of what is possible at the intersect of sports and policy.

So, what does that mean for transgender rights in the United States? Or even transgender policies in sports?

Trainor wants to see more people in politics, sports or otherwise embrace having meaningful conversations about change.

“The WNBA, to me, is at least the league that’s willing to have the hard conversations, and that’s what needs to be done,” Trainor said.

“Policies can always be improved to be more inclusive. There’s there’s just no if ands or buts about that. And again, the W(NBA) does, at least the women of the W(NBA), they do not shy away from those conversations.”

The updated t-shirt design features Trainor’s popular invest-pay-hire message on the front. The iconic HRC equality logo with Trainor’s signature below can be found on the back. The design is available in dark blue as well as black with pink and blue accent, representative of the trans flag colors. The collaboration is live now on the Human Right Campaign website.

Trainor and the Human Rights Campaign expect to announce different ways to get involved in the ongoing advocacy for LGBTQ+ people.