8 Ladies Who Are Leveling the Playing Field

Last week I wrote a piece about California's new transgender anti-discrimination bill that allows trans folks to self-identify for which bathroom they use and which sports team they play on. In light of this bill, men were quick to defend their physical superiority, saying that a woman shouldn't be able to play on a man's team.

Not only do I think this is sexist, it's just not true. The lack of media coverage of women's sports, the persistent sexism that insists women cannot compete with men, and hypersexualization of women athletes all make being a woman athlete really difficult.

So for breaking gender barriers and being some of the firsts, we thank you:

1. Makhaela Jenkins | Ohio

Makhaela challenged her school district's policy that barred her from playing on her middle-school football team. She was quoted saying, "Some people have different goals and dreams they want to follow, and if they want to play a sport, (they) should be able to play a sport no matter what gender you are." Makaela has practiced, lifted weights, and played on youth football teams around the city.

2. Katie Goldberg | Georgia

Katie hit 11 home runs (three in one game) in five weeks of a summer tournament. She's gained national attention for her throwing arm and her ability to play any position on the field. When Katie starts school in the fall, she plans to try out for the Marist School's boys baseball team. Katie isn't the first girl to play on a boys' high school baseball team, but it is rather uncommon and tends to happen at smaller schools.

3. Lacy Asdourian | California

Lacy was positioned to be the star of the girls basketball team at Liberty Christian School. Unexpectedly during tryouts, the girls team was scrapped due to the small number of girls who signed up. The school's athletic director asked her to show up to the boys' practice, and after a few days he asked her to play with the boys team. She is said to be a leader on the team, "a keen distributor of the ball and tough defender."

4. Gabrielle Seamon | Arizona

Gabrielle, a senior at La Joya High School, made the male varsity football team. She plays offense and defense, and has no problem keeping up with the other male players. Watch her play here.

5. Molly Richey | Texas

Molly was forced to try out for the boys' soccer team because her high school did not offer a girls' team. After Molly's freshman season, they lost some of their best players, and she was said to be one of the best players her team had. Not only did she start and get honored as an all-district honoree for three years straight, but as a junior, she was named the most valuable player of the boys' team. She now plays for the Oklahoma Sooners.

6. Erin DiMeglio | Florida

Erin made history over a year ago when she became the first girl to play quarterback for a high-school football game in Florida. According to the High School Athletics Participation Survey from the National Federation of State High School Associations, 1,604 girls played 11-player football during the 2011 season.

7. Lisa Spangler | Washington

Lisa has been tackling people from a very young age. She was playing flag football, and while reaching for a flag, she accidentally knocked down an opponent. Her dad said that she told him she wanted to play tackle football ever since. She played middle linebacker.

8. Brittney Griner | Arizona

Brittney has set her sights on trying out for the National Basketball Association after a successful season with the Women's National Basketball Association. She set a National Collegiate Athletic Association record for blocked shots, has two player-of-the-year awards, and had a 50-point performance last season.

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Ryane Ridenour

Ryane is a progressive Texan with a passion for reproductive justice, young leadership, and communications. Ryane currently serves as the Political & Communications Coordinator at the Generational Alliance, where she develops and runs communications strategies for the alliance and its members. Ryane chased her dreams and moved to Washington, DC last year to serve as a Programs and Development Fellow with the Women's Campaign Fund. Her passion for women's rights led her to intern at the Women's Information Network and NARAL Pro-Choice America before she landed her dream job at the Gen Alliance. Ryane developed her progressive roots at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she was able to graduate in 3 ½ years, while working full-time and organizing. Ryane is a proud Young People For Alumni Board member, Lifetime Girl Scout & Gold Award Recipient, CPL New Leaders Fellow, and a member of American University's Women in Politics We Lead class of 2013. Her dreams include running for office and turning Texas from red to blue y'all.

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