Martina Navratilova Apologises For Saying Trans Athletes Are Cheating

In a blog post on her website, Navratilova addressed the backlash to her original piece in The Sunday Times.

Close up of Martina Navratilova at a press conference

Following a backlash, Martina Navratilova has published an apology on her blog for saying trans athletes were “cheating”.

In a piece published in The Sunday Times, the Wimbledon champion had referred to allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sporting tournaments. She said“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.”

There was an immediate reaction to her comments, with LGBT+ sports group Athlete Ally removing her from their advisory board. There were also those who did not accept the apology, including trans sportswoman Rachel McKinnon.

On her blog post, Martina said: “I know that my use of the word ‘cheat’ caused particular offence among the transgender community. I’m sorry for that because I certainly was not suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats. I attached the label to a notional case in which someone cynically changes gender, perhaps temporarily, to gain a competitive advantage.”

The post continued: “Needless to say, I have always and will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone. When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life. And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport.”

In their own post discussing the removal of Navratilova from their advisory board, Athlete Ally said “There is no evidence at all that the average trans woman is any bigger, stronger, or faster than the average cisgender woman, but there is evidence that often when athletes lower testosterone through hormone replacement therapy, performance goes down…Trans athletes have been allowed to openly compete in the Olympics since 2003, and yet no transgender athlete has ever gone to the Olympics. Professional trans women athletes are extremely rare.”

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