Shut Up and Dribble: Fellas, is it Gay to Date a Woman?

Kylian Mbappé’s Girlfriend is Transgender and the Internet was Unsurprisingly Shitty

Graphic Breea Kobernick

The partners of famous athletes have been the subject of massive public interest from the moment people started caring about sports. It’s a byproduct of being involved with some of the most famous and revered people on the planet, but sometimes, it can get ugly.

The internet—famously known for being a welcoming and supportive environment—has made a habit of abusing or insulting these partners for the simple fact of being in a relationship. That habit reared its ugly head again earlier this month when international soccer star Kylian Mbappé was seen with French model Ines Rau. 

This made massive headlines not only due to the fact that Mbappé is one of the most prominent athletes on the planet but also due to the fact that Rau was the first openly trans woman to be on the cover of Playboy. Social media, in a typical display of tact and grace, did exactly what one would expect from it. A barrage of transphobic, homophobic and all-around disgusting comments proceeded to flood every social media platform carrying the story.

I don’t know if the two are actually together—and I personally don’t give a shit about who athletes date because the details surrounding their personal lives are only theirs to disclose. However, the sheer vitriol towards the alleged couple highlights just how disgusting some sports fans still are and makes me embarrassed to share a community with them. 

This isn’t exclusive to small burner or troll accounts doing this to get into a row either, people with thousands of followers and even more influence are going viral for transphobic comments—and they are being applauded for it.

Transphobia, both casual and outright, have been a staple of the sports world for some time. With trans athletes competing at higher levels and more high-profile athletes immersing themselves—either socially or romantically—in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s being seen as a threat: a threat to the inherent cis-heteronormativity that has been present in modern sports for over a century.

I genuinely wish I was naive enough to be surprised by this reaction, but I am not. The soccer world can talk at length about how tolerant they are and how they’re trying to make the game accessible for everyone, but when this kind of shit is not only commonplace but expected, then your community is broken beyond repair.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 3, published September 27, 2022.