Martina Navratilova: ‘End of women’s sport as we know it’

Martina Navratilova: ‘End of women’s sport as we know it’. By Decca Aitkenhead.

Now 62, [Martina Navratilova] lives in Florida with her wife and two stepdaughters, commentates on tennis all over the world and campaigns for LGBT rights. …

Having lambasted communism, championed equal prize money for female players and campaigned for gay rights, Navratilova must feel she has consistently been on the right side of history. But the charge often levelled against anyone who queries self-identified trans people’s entitlement to all the rights of their nominated gender is that they’re on the “wrong side of history”, which must be an uncomfortable place for Navratilova to find herself. …

She has just made a BBC1 documentary, “The Trans Women Athlete Dispute,” where she talked to people on all sides of the debate. I ask what she learnt. “Number one, I learnt how long it can take to transition — and my empathy has grown sky-high. I knew it was hard, but you see the pain and the emotional rollercoaster that transgender men and women go through, and your heart goes out. Nobody chooses that. Just as I didn’t choose to be gay, they don’t choose to be transgender. I totally understand that.” …

“You don’t want women and girls coming into a race and saying, ‘I’m racing for second because this woman was a man, she’s five, six, seven inches taller, weighs 21kg more and is so much faster — I have no chance, no matter what you do with the drugs.’” But doesn’t any competitive advantage trans women enjoy get eliminated by the compulsory reduction of testosterone levels? Navratilova smiles. “That’s the million-dollar question.” …

I ask what she makes of the argument that men’s physical advantage is not biological but merely cultural. “That’s what’s been suggested: that if women had been competing for 100 years like men, they’d be at the same level as men. No,” she scoffs impatiently. “It’s not physically possible. So that is not an argument, just a silly thing to say.” …

The certainty ebbs when I ask for her solution. … She shakes her head. “Look, we’re trying to find as equitable a solution as possible, but whatever solution there is, someone will be unhappy.” …

When I ask how she explains the recent growth of the transgender population, she sounds uncharacteristically reticent. “Well, that I don’t know. You’d need to ask a sociologist.”

Not the transgender issue, but this makes a related point: