Nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has blasted the practice of allowing male-born transgender athletes to compete against biological women, labeling it as “insane.”
As reported by the Daily Mail, the tennis star claimed transgender women athletes have an unfair advantage unless they undergo irreversible surgery to change their anatomy and compete on a level playing field.
The 62-year-old explained she is more than willing to address transgender athletes by their preferred pronoun, but would not take to the tennis court against those who have not fully transitioned.
Navratilova describes her argument as a basic one, and it goes a little something like this.
“To put my argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse the decision and go back to making babies. It’s insane and it’s cheating.”
This is not the first time that Navratilova has waded into the subject of trans people in the world of sports. Last year, the Czech-born tennis coach became embroiled in a fierce spat with transgender female cycling champion Dr. Rachel McKinnon.
Canadian academic Dr. McKinnon, 35, still has her male anatomy but has identified as a woman since she was 29. She is the first transgender woman to win a female world cycling title.
McKinnon became enraged with Navratilova after the tennis champ tweeted an attack on “trans tyranny.”
“You can’t proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” Navratilova wrote, per the Daily Mail.
McKinnon accused Navratilova — who faced extreme homophobic abuse when she came out as a lesbian in 1981 — of transphobia.
“I still can’t believe she said this….to me of all people,” Dr. McKinnon tweeted.
Navratilova, who has campaigned widely for LGBT rights, refuses to budge on her stance. In her opinion piece for the SundayTimes, she explained that even with hormone therapy, transgender women still boast higher muscle density and bone mass. She also added they have higher levels of oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
However, she does make a “critical distinction” between the likes of McKinnon — who takes hormones — and athletes who have had full gender reassignment surgery, such as tennis player Renee Richards.
The International Olympic Committee is just one of the many sporting bodies which have undergone a widespread review over their transgender athlete policies to ensure that no one, male or female, has an unfair advantage.