Olympic hero Kelly Holmes admits she was ‘ignorant’ about trans athletes: ‘I support my trans siblings’

Dame Kelly Holmes

Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes has slammed a Daily Mail article she claims took a comment about trans athletes out of context, saying she has “total support” for trans people.

Holmes, who came out as a lesbian in June 2022, hit back at the publication in response to a new article attacking trans women in sport.

A quote written by Holmes on Twitter in 2019, was used in an article published on Monday (16 January).

Admitting that she was previously ignorant about the trans community, Holmes has now offered her support. 

On her instagram story she wrote: “As an former international athlete, a gay women and now openly a member of the LGBTQIA community, I want to firstly say I totally support my trans siblings…”

“I have been ignorant in the past about the fight of the trans community and I now want to see fair and conclusive outcome for those whose gender differs from that assigned at birth, in all walks of life, including sport.” 

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‘Important everyone is treated fairly’

Holmes added she does not agree with outright bans on trans people in sport, and says in many instances “inclusion” is more important than “winning”.

“Firstly I do not believe in a blanket approach. A more nuanced approach of looking at the individual person, sport and level is much better way of keeping sport fair,” Holmes added.

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“For example, there are many sports in which skill, practice and experience pay much more than physical ability, Holmes continued,

“Equally, the vast majority of sport is played on a local playing field where taking part and inclusion, as well as physical and mental health benefits are perhaps more important than winning. 

She describes the issue as “complex” but adds: “Saying that all trans athletes shouldn’t compete in elite sport isn’t right.”

She concluded: “It is important everyone in society is treated fairly and for sport, a scientific approach on this matter is taken, like in other countries were scientific reviews have already happened.”

In her 2019 tweet, Holmes had referenced “biological women” and even suggested trans categories or “trans games”.

‘A real ally’

Bobbi Pickard, the CEO of Trans In The City said: “Dame Kelly Holmes has been on a huge learning curve about the Trans community since coming out last year. 

“It is so positive to see that through the help of the LGBTQIA community she now is beginning to understand the truth about Trans and non binary people and is turning into a real ally for us. I look forward to seeing her ally ship go from strength to strength.”

Since coming out Holmes has shared how she can “finally breathe” and is “happy for the first time”

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Sports bodies excluding trans women 

Kelly Holmes’ support for the trans community comes at a time when many sports are introducing harmful bans on transgender women participating in female events. 

In July last year, British Triathlon banned trans athletes from competing in the female category at an elite and grassroots level, creating a new “open category”. 

The Rugby Football Union also banned femme trans athletes from taking part in the women’s category, citing “fair competition and safety”, while Volleyball England and the Swimming’s World governing body also introduced a similar ban prohibiting trans participating in the female categories.

Worryingly, World Athletics and FIFA have also hinted at banning trans athletes, despite experts and scientist confirming there’s no good reason to ban trans women. 

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