MSNBC guest claimed track and field can be 'a very gendered place'

On Saturday’s episode of American Voices, Menendez spoke with track athlete Nikki Hiltz who recently competed against women in the Olympic trials. 

Despite Hiltz not qualifying for the American team, Menendez highlighted this year’s Olympics as “making history” with transgender athletes competing for the first time. However, she also noted Hiltz’s recent statement feeling no longer “safe” in Arkansas due to bills Menendez claimed would affect trans athletes “to live their day-to-day lives.” 

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“Yeah. It’s crazy. You know, I spent three years in Arkansas and I think, you know, I just don’t feel safe there anymore,” Hiltz said. “Just because of these bills and you know, the way that they’re passing through. I think it’s really going to limit a lot of people, especially trans people, and you know, yeah, it’s just heartbreaking. And you know, that’s why I’m so determined to keep showing up as myself and, you know, trying to make space for trans people in sport.”

The Department of Justice recently ruled the Arkansas bill to be unconstitutional, setting up a likely legal confrontation in the future. 

Menendez then pointed to a coming out letter Hiltz wrote where the athlete referred the fields as “a very gendered place.” Hiltz further claimed that even the term “women’s 1500” needs to be updated to be more inclusive.

“I think — hope sports can you know change their language too. I heard Megan Rapinoe say –she said, athletes competing in women’s sports. And you know that for me was like that’s it you know. Sometimes when I’m in the call room and I hear the women’s 1500, it kind of shakes me for a minute, in a moment where I’m trying to focus on the biggest race of my life.” Hiltz said. “So I think that we can all change our language and make sport, you know, accepting for everyone.”

Menendez also disparaged against what she referred to as “heartbreaking legislation” in various states that are “aimed at kids who want to play sports for a kid that is watching.” She ended the spot thanking Hiltz for showing up as yourself” and “creating space for other people to do the same.”

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