Martina Navratilova Apologizes for Transphobic Op-Ed

The lesbian tennis champ claimed trans women athletes competing against cis women were "cheating."

Lesbian tennis great Martina Navratilova has apologized after her op-ed about trans women competing in women’s sports went viral.

Late last month, Navratilova penned a controversial op-ed for London’s Sunday Times in which she claimed allowing trans women athletes to compete alongside cis women was “insane” and “cheating.” “I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her,” she wrote. “It would not be fair.”

Navratilova’s anti-transgender hot-take was poorly received—and even prompted Athlete Ally, a prominent LGBTQ athletics nonprofit, to cut ties with her.

In a lengthy post on her personal blog, Navratilova has since issued an apology. She claims she stumbled into a “hornet’s nest” by attempting to “encourage a more scientific, rather than emotional, conversation” about trans athletes in profession sports. In particular, she apologized for the “cheating” comment:

I know that my use of the word “cheat” caused particular offence [sic] 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.

Moving forward, Navratilova (pictured below) wants to continue to debate this issue “not [based] on feeling or emotion but science, objectivity and the best interests of women’s sport as a whole.” She claims there’s no blanket solution to this “transgender problem” and goes on to cite controversies over trans athletes in recent history.

Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

“Needless to say, I have always and will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone,” she adds. “When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life. And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport.”

Regardless of Navratilova’s intent, her words have already had dangerous consequences: As NewNowNext previously reported, conservative lawmakers around the country have invoked her Sunday Times op-ed to argue in favor of anti-transgender legislation.

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