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17 Feb, 2019 18:20

‘Insane & cheating’: Navratilova reignites criticism over transgender women in sports

‘Insane & cheating’: Navratilova reignites criticism over transgender women in sports

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has again come under fire for comments about transgender women in sport, reiterating her belief that some of the rules currently in place are “insane and cheating,” and unfair to other women.

Navratilova drew anger back in December when she tweeted: You can't just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women.

There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”

Also on rt.com ‘Having a penis and competing as a woman is not fair’: Navratilova inflames transgender fury

The 18-time Grand Slam  winner was accused of  bullyingand being discriminatory with the comments, and was involved in a particularly bitter spat with Canadian transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon.

Navratilova, 62, later apologized if her comments had been construed as transphobic, and vowed to “educate myself better on this issue [and] meantime I will be quiet about it.”

But the tennis great has now waded back into the row with an article in The Sunday Times.

In it, the Czech-born legend says she has looked further into the issue, and that her 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,” wrote Navratilova, who is a prominent gay rights campaigner.

“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,” she added.

“Simply reducing hormone levels – the prescription most sports have adopted – does not solve the problem.

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“A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a greater number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood,” Navratilova wrote.

"...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 sports in which power rather than skill is paramount. McKinnon is just one example," she added.  

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Navratilova said she had felt “put out” by the initial anger leveled at her, including from McKinnon, and cited her friendship with transgender former tennis player Renee Richards.

The tennis ace said she made “a critical distinction” between transgender and transsexual athletes.

"Transsexuals have decided to change their gender and have had the deed done, surgically. They have made the full commitment. They are few in number and rarely enjoy a competitive advantage,” Navratilova wrote.      

She also said she backed South African runner Caster Semenya in her battle with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for her right to compete freely amid the debate over increased testosterone levels.

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But Navratilova’s renewed scathing criticism of “cheating” transgender women has caused more anger from various groups, including activists at Trans Actual.

“We’re pretty devastated to discover that Martina Navratilova is transphobic,” the rights group tweeted, adding: “If trans women had an advantage in sport, why aren’t trans women winning gold medals left, right and centre?”

McKinnon shared a link to the article and wrote: “Martina Navratilova has removed all doubt: she is absolutely transphobic.”

Navratilova seemed to preempt the anger in her Sunday Times piece, saying that while there was “no excuse for prejudice and nastiness” towards transgender athletes, “I also deplore what seems to be a growing tendency among transgender activists to denounce anyone who argues against them and to label them as ‘transphobes.’ That’s just another form of tyranny.”

With neither side looking like backing down, the debate is set to rumble on.