Martina Navratilova says including trans women in sport is ‘tricky’

Martina Navratilova

Czech tennis player and 18-time Grand Slam winner Martina Navratilova has told a summit in Scotland that her views on transgender women competing in women’s sport are “about biology”.

Navratilova, 62, was speaking at the fifth annual Aberdeen Standard Investments diversity summit in Gleneagles, held in association with The Times.

Navratilova said: “In sport we have categories and it’s about biology and fairness, so I was always coming about it from that angle. And I still am.”

“I don’t think it should be up to women and girls to prove there is a disadvantage for us. I think it needs to be proven the other way — that there is no disadvantage — so that women and girls are not discouraged from playing the sport they love because they have no chance.”

She told STV News that including trans women in sport is “tricky” and the most important thing is to ensure a “level playing field” for women and girls in sport.

Navratilova told Scotland Tonight: “It’s difficult because you want to be as inclusive as possible but you still want to have a fair situation, a level-playing field, as much as that is possible.

“By including transgender women in women’s and girls’ sports, now the women and girls that are playing, it’s like ‘wait a minute, I’m looking at someone that is much bigger, much stronger than I am, how is that fair?'”

She pointed to different levels of “transgenderism inclusivity” in different sports, saying: “Some sports have rules about testosterone levels, transitioning and taking hormone therapy, and some only say self-ID.”

Navratilova previously hit out at “tyranny” from trans activists and claimed it is “insane” to allow trans women to compete in sport.

The lesbian tennis player came under scrutiny in December 2018 after complaining on Twitter about rules that allow trans women to take part in women’s sport.

Hostility towards elite trans athletes was attributed to an uptick in focus on trans people competing in everyday sports, with two major gym chains in the UK proposing to ask trans people for their Gender Recognition Certificate before allowing them into single-sex changing rooms.

Government guidance says that GRC’s should never be asked for as “proof of gender”, aside from in a small number of circumstances. The GRA was brought in in 2004 to protect trans people’s privacy.

In June 2019, Navratilova fronted a BBC documentary about trans athletes. In the documentary her views on trans participation in elite sports appeared to evolve from her previous stance.

In the BBC documentary, Navratilova concluded that trans athletes should be able to participate in all levels of sport.

Her comments on September 10 appear to show she has backtracked on this position.