Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has claimed that allowing transgender female athletes to compete in women’s sport is “insane” and akin to “cheating”.
The out tennis champion wrote an article in UK’s The Times newspaper addressing a controversy over a tweet last December complaining about rules allowing trans women to take part in women’s sport.
“I promised to keep quiet on the subject until I had properly researched it,” Navratilova wrote.
“Well, I’ve now done that and, if anything, my views have strengthened.
“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.
“It’s insane and it’s cheating.
“I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”
In December, Navratilova was slammed for writing a now-deleted tweet on the same topic.
“You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” she wrote.
“There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
‘That’s what transphobia looks like’
Canadian cyclist Rachel McKinnon, who became the first trans woman to win a world title in her sport last October, told The Guardian that she found Navratilova’s new column “disturbing, upsetting, and deeply transphobic.”
“She trades on age-old stereotypes and stigma against trans women, treating us as men just pretending to be real women,” she said.
“She seeks to deny trans women equal rights to compete under the rules.
“And the current rules, such as the International Olympic Committee since 2003, explicitly welcomes trans women to compete at the highest levels. I suppose it’s too much to ask for Martina to simply do the same.
“This is what the double bind for trans women looks like: when we win, it’s because we’re transgender and it’s unfair.
“When we lose, no one notices (and it’s because we’re just not that good anyway). Even when it’s the same racer. That’s what transphobia looks like.”
Openly transgender athletes have been permitted by the International Olympics Committee since 2004, as long as they had undergone gender affirmation surgery and had been on hormone therapy for two years.
In 2016, the IOC adopted guidelines for trans athletes removing the requirement that trans athletes undergo surgery in order to compete.
Trans men can compete without restriction, and trans women are required to show proof that their testosterone levels have been under a specific amount for at least 12 months before their competition.