Athlete Ally cuts ties with Martina Navratilova over ‘transphobic’ comments

Photo of Martina Navratilova, who wrote a column for the Sunday Times Athelte Ally condemned as "transphobic."

LGBT+ group Athlete Ally have cut ties with tennis legend and lesbian icon Martina Navratilova after she wrote a column in The Sunday Times objecting to the inclusion of trans athletes in sports.

In a statement published on their website on Tuesday (February 19), Athlete Ally condemned Navratilova’s comments as “transphobic” and based on “a false understanding of science and data” that promotes “hateful stereotypes” and goes against the LGBT+ group’s mission of fighting homophobia and transphobia.

“Martina Navratilova’s recent comments on trans athletes are transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence,” the statement read.

It added: “Given this, Navratilova has been removed from our Advisory Board and as an Athlete Ally Ambassador, effective immediately.”

Martina Navratilova of the USA in action.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has previously championed gay rights. (Clive Brunskill/Getty)

Navratilova, a retired Czech-American player who married her longterm partner Julia Lemigova in 2014, has championed gay rights, calling out her fellow tennis legend Margaret Court’s opposition to same-sex marriage in Australia.

But in the Sunday Times piece, the openly lesbian player said having trans women competing against cisgender women would be a form of “cheating” and “unfair.”

Athlete Ally disputes Martina Navratilova

Athlete Ally rejected her comments, pointing out that “there is no evidence at all that the average trans woman is any bigger, stronger, or faster than the average cisgender woman, but there is evidence that often when athletes lower testosterone through hormone replacement therapy, performance goes down.”

The LGBT+ group has also disclosed it first contacted Navratilova over her stance on transgender rights in December, when she first advocated for “standards” regarding trans women’s ability to compete against cisgender women after she was tagged in a Twitter thread on the topic started by the group Fair Play for Women, which campaigns against transgender rights.

“Clearly that can’t be right. 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,” Navratilova wrote in a since-deleted message, quoted in The Telegraph.

“We believe that growth is possible, and we extend once again to Martina the invitation to learn from this experience.”

— Athlete Ally

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