One of the greatest female tennis players of all time, Martina Navratilova, has reiterated her opposition to allowing trans players to compete against biologically female athletes. Navratilova, who won 18 grand slam singles titles during her sparkling career, declared that it would be “insane” to allow such a rule change.
The famed Czech athlete faced immediate backlash after speaking out about the issue with a bombshell tweet at the end of last year: “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” she said at the time. “There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
In a new article published by the Sunday Times, Navratilova noted that she vowed to remain quiet on the issue until she had completed further research and felt adequately qualified to speak out.
“Well, I’ve now done that,” she wrote, “and, if anything, my views have strengthened.”
The nine-time Wimbledon champion further explained:
“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization 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,” she wrote. “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.”
As you can imagine, the push-back was immediate.
“We’re pretty devastated to discover that Martina Navratilova is transphobic,” tweeted Trans Actual, a group that “aims to highlight issues affecting the trans community in the UK and beyond.”
“Trans women had an advantage in sport, why aren’t trans women winning gold medals left, right & centre? Coz trans women don’t have an advantage. Look up the changes that estrogen makes to the body,” the group added.
Navratilova also took criticism from Professor Rachel McKinnon, a Canadian academic and cyclist who became the first trans athlete to win a track Cycling World Championship title.
“McKinnon has vigorously defended her right to compete, pointing out that, when tested, her levels of testosterone, the male hormone, were well within the limits set by world cycling’s governing body,” Navratilova wrote in her column “Nevertheless, at 6ft tall and weighing more than 14 stone, she appeared to have a substantial advantage in muscle mass over her rivals.”
McKinnon lambasted Navratilova’s comments as “disturbing, upsetting, and deeply transphobic.”
The tennis legend, who is herself a lesbian, was very disappointed by the criticism she received from McKinnon, noting that those in the trans community appear to be increasingly unable to engage in civil debate.
“What seems to be a growing tendency among transgender activists to denounce anyone who argues against them,” Navratilova wrote.