Navratilova’s ‘cheating’ op-ed sparks outrage, discussion on transgender athletes
Lauren Chiangpradit | Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019
A prominent LGBTQ sports advocacy group has cut ties with Martina Navratilova, 18 time Grand Slam winner, after she expressed controversial opinions on transitioning male-to-female athletes.
In December, Navratilova tweeted that male-to-female transgenders competing in women’s sports is “cheating” because of an unfair physical advantage. She followed up her tweets with an op-ed in the United Kingdom’s Sunday Times on Feb. 17, reaffirming what she had tweeted.
Athlete Ally responded to Navratilova’s tweets and op-ed by calling them, “transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and (perpetuating) dangerous myths that lead to ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence.”
The organization has a history of advocating for equality in sports regardless of sexual orientation, gender identification and gender expression. Prior to her removal as an ambassador, Navratilova advocated for them and was honored with the group’s first action award in 2014.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King took a more conciliatory tone, tweeting to let science figure out the debate.
.@Martina has long been an LGBTQ champion. I know she cares deeply for the transgender community. However, instead of conjecture, let’s listen to the science behind transgender women competing fairly in women’s sports. Science is the true arbiter.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) February 20, 2019
Most were shocked by Navratilova’s stance not only because of her work for the LGBTQ community but also because she herself came out in 1981. Her coming out was not seamless. She lost millions in endorsements and overcame extensive criticism, which she then used to drive her advocacy for athletes showing their sexuality.
Cyclist Rachel McKinnon, who was born biologically male but transitioned to female in her 20s, tweeted in response to Navratilova by saying, “it’s a wild fantasy worry that is an irrational fear of something that doesn’t happen. An irrational fear of trans people? Transphobia.”
This is, in her own words with the time of forethought and authorship, Martina Navratilova’s ‘core’ argument against trans women athletes.
It’s a wild fantasy worry that is an irrational fear of something that doesn’t happen. An irrational fear of trans people? Transphobia. pic.twitter.com/RAX3ynGyTl
— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) February 17, 2019
Trans Actual UK, a rights advocate group in the United Kingdom, also showed disdain to Navratilova’s stance on male-to-female transgenders in sports. They tweeted, “We’re pretty devastated to discover that Martina Navratilova is transphobic. If trans women had an advantage in sport, why aren’t trans women winning gold medals left, right [and] center?”
This is not Navratilova’s first time receiving backlash on her views on transgender people’s participation in sports. However, after her last incident she claimed to have done research that “strengthened” her viewpoint.
Watching @Martina helped me when I was young man coming to terms with my true self- she is one of my idols. I agree with @BillieJeanKing and think that there’s an opportunity for all of us to educate ourselves and listen to the science behind transgender women competing in sport. https://t.co/lkZ8pc0ZvQ
— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins98) February 20, 2019
— Dr. Debra Soh (@DrDebraSoh) February 19, 2019
Sorry but this is ridiculous. The idea that @Martina Navratilova is a transphobe is just totally mad and self-defeating. This is a woman who was an out gay athlete with a transgender coach in the 1980s!! She’s an LGBT activist, and she’s simply saying what most people think! https://t.co/bDs5deqsMI
— Ben Bradley MP (@bbradleymp) February 20, 2019
A US-based organisation that campaigns for LGBT sportspeople has cut links with Martina Navratilova over comments she made about male-to-female transgender athletes.
👉 https://t.co/yQqePk0Ktm pic.twitter.com/YyCybGy6gX
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 20, 2019
No transgender woman has ever dominated any sport at any level ever.
Claiming trans athletes are “cheats” and will destroy women’s sports is baed on nothing but misinformation, hatred and fear. https://t.co/vIzW2Sfx3b
— Cyd Zeigler (@CydZeigler) February 17, 2019
Lauren Chiangpradit is a junior sports journalism major at Arizona State University