Facing the fallout over her recent comments regarding transgender athletes. The openly lesbian former Wimbledon Champion has been officially dumped by Athlete Ally, who released a statement earlier today to clarify their position and stand behind transgender athletes. In their official statement, Athlete Ally stated…
“Athlete Ally unequivocally stands on the side of trans athletes and their right to access and compete in sport free from discrimination. 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. 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. Given this, Navratilova has been removed from our Advisory Board and as an Athlete Ally Ambassador, effective immediately.”
The statement came about after Navratilova published an Op-Ed in the Sunday Times titled “The rules on trans athletes reward cheats and punish the innocent.” Throughout the article she argued that trans women were “Men you decided to be female” and that to allow them to compete was “cheating and unfair.” Most of her arguments are based on outdated and ignorant stereotypes along with a lack of simple understanding of what it means to be transgender.
Athlete Ally invited Navratilova to join their Ambassador Program in 2011 for her work as an openly lesbian athlete who could potentially champion for LGBTI inclusion in sports. However, it is clear that Navratilova is not quite ready for that distinction as she continues to peddle ignorance and fear by spreading misinformation. Athlete Ally clarified their position on the eligibility of transgender athletes in sports…
“First of all, trans women are women, period. They did not decide their gender identity any more than someone decides to be gay, or to have blue eyes. 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 women athletes aren’t looking to take over women’s sport. They are women, and want to compete in the sport they love, just as any other athlete would. In fact, they’re largely underrepresented. 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.“
Over the past year, there has been an increase in transgender athletes participating in sports that have brought this discussion to the forefront. This precedence and context is what drove Navratilova to write her Op-Ed but sadly has not helped to educate her on the issue. Athlete Ally has been aware of Navratilova’s history of anti-trans statements and has even attempted to reach out to help her on several occasions in the past to offer resources that would help educate her and give her a more well-rounded understanding of the topic.
As more transgender athletes are participating in sports and representing on every level. It opens up doors to have these discussions and better educate people. More importantly, it helps us all learn about how being transgender and being an athlete are not mutually exclusive.
By Dirk Smith