Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who has been slammed for her opinion that it isn’t fair for male athletes who call themselves women to compete against biological women, issued a tweet on Tuesday indicating that no matter how nasty her critics get, she’s immovable on the subject.
After one LGBT outlet ripped Navratilova for her position and likened her to Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels, one conservative columnist tweeted on Tuesday morning, “ICYMI from last night ->>> .@Martina Navratilova Learns That Nothing Short Of Total Surrender Will Appease Transgender Activists.”
Less than two hours later, Navratilova made clear that she was resolute, tweeting back, “Not going to happen:)”
The entire series of events began last December, when Navratilova, a staunch advocate of LGBT rights, issued a blunt tweet that inflamed the transgender community, writing, ““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.” After that tweet engendered heavy criticism from some members of the trans community, Navratilova doubled down in mid-February in a column for the Times, stating:
To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization 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.
What I really wanted to do was try to open up the debate about equality and fairness in relation to transgender participation in women’s sport. There were too many voices that were silenced and shamed into submission and that is not right. My aim was to encourage a more scientific, rather than emotional, conversation and to search for a solution that would work better than current arrangements.
I was motivated by concern about the future of women’s sport and my worry that by trying to be fair and inclusive for one group, others can be adversely affected, that eliminating one kind of discrimination can inadvertently give rise to another … 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. We should not be blind to the possibility and some of these rules are making that possible and legal. The context may be different, but the case of Lance Armstrong, and the harm he did to his sport, is surely instructive …
It is obvious that men have certain inherent physiological advantages over women. These include height, weight, bone-density and muscularity. These advantages play a different role depending on the sport, with power-lifting being the biggest and most obvious advantage. Can we make sure those advantages are nullified so that women who have transitioned from men have the same level of physical capability they would have had if they been born female? Clearly, we can’t, because you cannot lose those extra inches of height (five inches on average) no matter what you do; some advantages of weight and muscle built up over time are also likely to remain, so to what acceptable degree should they disappear?
The Nazis had “The Jewish Question,” and history records the horror which its leaders called the “Final Solution.” Navratilova treads a very dangerous line in asking if this issue of inclusion should be called a name that’s not so far off from Joseph Goebbels’ nomenclature.