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Martina Navratilova slammed for calling out transgender ‘cheating’ in women’s sports

February 20, 2019

Martina Navratilova, one of the first openly gay major sports figures, has run afoul of the LGBT movement for calling it “cheating” to allow transgender females to participate in women’s sports.

Gay rights group Athlete Ally on Tuesday removed the tennis great from its advisory board and stripped her of her Athlete Ally Ambassador title, accusing her of making “transphobic” comments in an op-ed in which she denounced rules that let “men compete as women.”

“Martina Navratilova’s recent comments on trans athletes are transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence,” Athlete Ally said in a statement.

“As an organization dedicated to addressing root causes of homophobia and transphobia in and through sport, we will only affiliate with those committed to the same goal, and not those who further misinformation or discrimination in any way,” the statement said.

Navratilova’s recent comments are transphobic, based on a false data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people. She has been removed from our Advisory Board and as an Athlete Ally Ambassador, effective immediately. https://t.co/A1taa40ihv Athlete Ally (@AthleteAlly) February 19, 2019

In a Monday op-ed, Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, said it was “surely unfair on women who have to compete against people who, biologically, are still men.”

“It’s insane and it’s cheating,” she said in the op-ed for the [U.K.] Sunday Times. “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.”

She cited Rachel McKinnon, a Canadian cyclist who won the women’s 200-meter match sprint last year at the masters track world championships for the 35-44 age group. McKinnon has said she transitioned from male to female shortly before finishing her Ph.D.

“Hundreds of athletes who have changed gender by declaration and limited hormone treatment have already achieved honours as women that were beyond their capabilities as men, especially in sports in which power rather than skill is paramount,” Navratilova said. “McKinnon is just one example.”

Navratilova was chastised in December when she tweeted, “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” but then apologized and said she would “educate myself better” after she was accused of being transphobic.

After doing the research, however, she said that 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 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 said.

In a Tuesday article, Out Magazine called her a “TERF,” or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and said her comments were “scientifically unsound,” while McKinnon told Reuters that the tennis legend “trades on age-old stereotypes and stigma against trans women.”

Martina Navratilova Has Decided to Pivot to TERF https://t.co/Lj6N9zjs08 Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) February 20, 2019

Gay Tennis Legend Martina Navratilova on Transgender Athletes: ‘It’s Insane and It’s Cheating’ https://t.co/C83n0mcRpg CNSNews.com (@cnsnews) February 19, 2019

Navratilova argued that it wasn’t enough to require reduced hormone levels, as many sports governing bodies have done in response to transgender athletes.

“A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a greater number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood,” she wrote. “Training increases the discrepancy. Indeed, if a male were to change gender in such a way as to eliminate any accumulated advantage, he would have to begin hormone treatment before puberty. For me, that is unthinkable.”

The 62-year-old Navratilova also blasted those who wield the “transphobe” label to silence critics, calling it “just another form of tyranny.”

“I’m relatively tough and was able to stand up for myself in my Twitter exchange with McKinnon, but I worry that others may be cowed into silence or submission,” she said.

Navratilova, who came out as lesbian in a 1981 interview, actually competed against a trans woman athlete: Renee Richards, formerly Richard Raskind, who played on the women’s pro tour from 1977-81 and later coached the tennis legend.

In an Oct. 15 QA with VeloNews, McKinnon argued that there is “no evidence at all that the average trans woman is any bigger, stronger, faster than the average cisgender woman.”

“It’s not the case that all trans women are these big six-foot-tall, 200-pound powerlifters,” McKinnon said. “I happen to be a six foot tall, 200-pound powerlifter, but that’s beside the point.”