The Guardian reports:
The former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has been criticised for “disturbing, upsetting, and deeply transphobic” comments after she argued that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sporting tournaments was “insane and cheating”.
The tennis player and gay rights campaigner first drew criticism from equalities activists and trans athletes when she tweeted in December: “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”
Writing in the Sunday Times, Navratilova said she had subsequently promised to keep quiet on the subject until she had done some research on it. “Well, I’ve now done that and, if anything, my views have strengthened,” she wrote.
“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.
“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.”
This is the crux of the issue. Politeness, courtesy and empathy all support treating transgender people with respect and addressing them in line with their gender identity.
But does that mean that they are legally a woman, who can compete in women’s professional sports?
I think the best solution to this issue of competing rights is to change the categories in elite and professional sport to “women” and “open”. Anyone at all can compete in the open category – men, women, trans-women etc.
But the “women” category is restricted to people who are biologically female.