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Martina Navratilova begs Joe Biden to stop trans athletes competing in elite sports

Patrick Kelleher February 4, 2021
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Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon, 2019. (Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Tennis bigot Martina Navratilova is calling on Joe Biden to introduce special rules that would prevent trans people from gaining a foothold in elite sports.

Navratilova, a vocal opponent of trans inclusion in sport, has in the past supported laws that would ban trans girls from participating in school sports. She has also claimed that including trans women in sport is “tricky”.

Now, she wants Joe Biden to carve out an exception in an executive order he signed on his first day in office which says the federal government must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Under the terms of that order, transgender students must be allowed to learn and participate in their schooling without facing sex discrimination – and that means that trans girls and women should compete on girls’ and women’s teams, according to the White House.

While there is already a patchwork of strict measures in place governing trans people’s participation in various elite sports, Navratilova wants Biden to carve out an exception to his executive order to ensure that women’s elite sports are not affected.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Navratilova said she supports equality but claimed that trans women have “pretty obvious” physical advantages, a suggestion which has been widely disputed by LGBT+ sporting organisations and experts, including Athlete Ally.

She said she opposed “an all-inclusive situation where trans men and women, just based on their self-ID, would be able to compete with no mitigation, no rules outside of that whatsoever”.

Navratilova said that such an eventuality, which is not currently the case, “would not be a level playing field” for cisgender women.

Martina Navratilova has claimed her trans-exclusionary views are based on ‘biology’

She was among a group of women who launched the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group on Tuesday (2 February), which claims it wants a “middle ground that protects girls’ and women’s sport and accommodates transgender athletes”.

The group has called for Biden to “carve out” out special rules in the executive order that would strictly control trans inclusion in elite sport.

“We are only talking about taking a carve-out or a separate policy for elite sports or sports at the higher level of high school, college and pros,” she said.

Martina Navratilova, who is a lesbian, came under fire on social media in December 2018 when she first complained about rules that allow trans women to participate in women’s sport.

In June 2019, Navratilova fronted a BBC documentary about trans athletes. In the documentary her views on trans participation in elite sports appeared to evolve from her previous stance.

She concluded that trans athletes should be able to participate in all levels of sport.

However, she later regressed to her earlier thinking, telling a summit in Scotland in September 2019 that her objections to trans women competing in sport are “about biology”.

Navratilova said: “In sport we have categories and it’s about biology and fairness, so I was always coming about it from that angle. And I still am.”

“I don’t think it should be up to women and girls to prove there is a disadvantage for us. I think it needs to be proven the other way — that there is no disadvantage — so that women and girls are not discouraged from playing the sport they love because they have no chance.”

Related topics: joe biden, Martina Navratilova, trans athletes

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