Navratilova retracts transgender 'cheat' label

PARIS • Martina Navratilova has apologised for describing transgender athletes wishing to compete in women's sports as cheats.

The tennis legend, an 18-time Grand Slam singles winner, was branded as "transphobic" after writing a column in The Times of London, claiming that allowing transgender athletes to compete with women, who were assigned female at birth, was "cheating and unfair".

She was also dropped as an ambassador for the Athlete Ally group, which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in sport.

"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," the 62-year-old wrote in a blog on Sunday.

"I attached the label to a notional case in which someone cynically changes gender, perhaps temporarily, to gain a competitive advantage."

Despite retracting her "cheat" claim, Navratilova said that the issue of transgender athletes competing in women's sports was a hot potato as it posed competitive as well as ethical questions.

However, she felt that trying to resolve the issue by creating further separate categories within any given sport would lead to confusion.

The Czech-American added: "First, we all need to realise that there is no perfect solution in which nobody will ever be wronged or disadvantaged. The objective must be to find policies that make women's sport as inclusive and fair as practically possible.

"After all, if everyone were included, women's sports as we know them would cease to exist. Therefore, any sensible policy must have some exclusions. But which ones? Where do you start and where do you end?"


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Navratilova retracts transgender 'cheat' label'. Print Edition | Subscribe