Trans athletes should not be allowed to compete in female competitions to ‘protect women’s sport’, a former British swimmer has said.
Sharron Davies said that allowing trans athletes to compete in women’s sport was ‘cheating’.
Speaking on BBC Sport, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and TV personality said she had spoken to numerous other female athletes who ‘feel the same way’.
‘It is not a transphobic thing – I really want to say we have no issue with people who are transgender,’ Davies said.
‘Every single woman athlete I’ve spoken to, and I have spoken to many, all of my friends in international sports, understand and feel the same way as me.’
Davies comments come weeks after openly gay tennis legend Martina Navratilova expressed her opposition to allowing trans athletes in female sports.
Navratilova received considerable backlash for her comments which saw her cutting ties with an athletics group.
‘Those with a male sex advantage should not be able 2compete in women’s sport’
Davies comments to BBC Sports came a day after she tweeted that trans women would have a ‘male advantage’ in female sports.
‘I have nothing against anyone who wishes 2be transgender. However I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex u r born with & the gender u may identify as. To protect women’s sport those with a male sex advantage should not be able 2compete in women’s sport,’ Davies wrote in her tweet.
I have nothing against anyone who wishes 2be transgender. However I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex u r born with & the gender u may identify as. To protect women’s sport those with a male sex advantage should not be able 2compete in women’s sport
— Sharron Davies MBE (@sharrond62) March 1, 2019
Davies’ tweet has received over 20,000 ‘likes’.
Dr. Racheal McKinnon, a trans athlete and world champion cyclist, took to Twitter to hit back at Davies’ comments, calling her a ‘transphobe’ and saying she was ‘sharing hate speech’.
‘There is no debate to be had over whether trans women athletes have an unfair advantage: it’s clear that they don’t,’ McKinnon tweeted.
McKinnon said that she received over 100,000 hate messages on Twitter after she won the UCI Masters Track World Championship title in October 2018.
Jen Wagner-Assali, the cyclist who finished third place behind McKinnon, said McKinnon’s win was ‘unfair’ and called on cycling’s international governing body to change their rules.
“There is no debate to be had over whether trans women athletes have an unfair advantage: it’s clear that they don’t. Since the Nov 2003 IOC policy openly allowing trans women to compete, not a single trans athlete has even qualified for the Olympics, let alone won a medal. (1/n)
— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) March 2, 2019
Navratilova, who has been involved in gay rights activism for decades, tweeted that she was opposed to trans athletes taking part in female sporting competitions in December last year.
She initially deleted her tweets and said should would ‘educate herself in the matter’.
However, Navratilova later doubled-down on her comments, saying it was ‘unthinkable’ that trans athletes could compete in women’s competitions in February.
The tennis legend was later dropped by an athletics group because of her comments.
Athlete Ally defended their decision to cut ties with Navratilova, saying her comments on trans issues ‘perpetuate dangerous myths’.
Critics have maintained that because some trans women have larger bodies than cisgendered women that gives them an advantage.
However, medical tests have shown that this is not always the case – particularly in sports requiring speed and agility – while others have pointed out how few trans world champions there are. Experts have also said trans women who regularly take estrogen do not have an advantage.
In 2016, the International Olympic Committee began allowing athletes transitioning from male to female to participate without restriction.
Those transitioning are required to maintain their testosterone levels below a certain level for at least 12 months.