Martina Navratilova, one of the world's greatest female tennis players of all time, has attracted criticism across social media after she bylined a Sunday Times article to argue that allowing transgender women to compete in female sporting tournaments was ''ínsane and cheating.''
The 18-time Grand Slam winner has been an active gay rights campaigner since she came out in 1981. Earlier last year, equalities activists and trans athletes heavily critisized Navratilova's tweet stating that a man could not just proclaim himself a woman and be able to compete against women. In her view, there must be some standards and regulations for that.
Navratilova not only declined the accusations of being transphobic but also confirmed she took her time after the tweet to conduct further research on the topic and strengthen her position on the issue.
In the article she penned, the nine-time Wimbledon champion wrote that it was ''insane'' that numerous athletes who changed their gender by declaration and have undergone limited hormone treatment have already achieved honors as women that were beyond their capabilities as men.''
She also added that a man could decide to be a female, take hormones, win everything in sports, earn a fortune, and then change his mind and go making babies again.
In her byline, Navratilova explicitly pointed out that she was always there to address a transgender woman in whatever form she preferred but would not be happy to compete against her as it would not be fair.
The Canadian athlete Rachel McKinnon, the first transgender woman to win a cyclist world title, was among the first people to argue Navratilova's position by calling it ''disturbing'' and ''upsetting." In her official statement, McKinnon also added that such an irrational fear of trans people is called ''transphobia''.
The trans rights group Trans Actual also responded to Navratilova's article by labeling them ''transphobic'' too. The spokesperson for the LGBT rights organization Stonewall commented that sport should be open to anyone interested, included trans people. Stonewall also urged policymakers to work harder to make sports as inclusive as possible.
In response to the critics, Martina Navratilova commented that there was a widespread tendency among the transgender community to label anyone who disagrees with them as a ''transphobe.''
The former No. 1 in the world also highlighted her close friendship with the fellow tennis player Renée Richards, a transgender, who has been fighting to play at women's US Open.
What does the law stipulate? As per the current regulations by the International Olympic Committee, trans men can compete without restriction. However, trans women should prove that their testosterone level has been below a certain number for at least twenty-four months before their first competition.
What is your opinion on the matter? Do you believe that it is ''transphobic'' to forbid trans women to compete in female sports?