Martina Navratilova has said if trans athletes are allowed to compete, men would ‘proclaim’ they’re trans to compete in women’s sports.
The highest court in international sport ruled that women with higher levels of testosterone must take hormonal suppressants or not be able to compete in certain races.
A blow to Olympic 800 meter racer Caster Semenya. Although, in a pre-recorded interview aired today (1 May) on BBC Radio 4, the tennis player said she was ‘disappointed’ with the verdict.
What did she say?
The Sports Desk host quizzed Navratilova about how the ruling will impact the world of professional sports.
She said: ‘Caster has been a champion of women, a champion sprinter, and a champion athlete, and she was born that way.
‘Now she’s being told she’s not good enough.’
Navratilova advocated for a ‘case-by-case’ approach, noting that no ‘one rule’ will work for everyone.
Trans athletes invite potential ‘cheating’
However, on the topic of trans athletes participating in professional sports, the tennis star advocated for gender barriers.
Moreover, she said opening up the field to trans athletes would invite ‘potential’ for ‘cheating,’
‘I’m not saying this could happen or would happen,’ she said.
‘But potentially, you have any male saying, “I am really a woman in transition and I live as a woman.”
‘Potentially every man could do that.’
However, trans athletes are ‘going at it from a fairness view point of, “we need to make it fair for everybody and open it for everybody.”
‘But there really is no solution that pleases everybody. It’s just a no-win situation.’
She argued that opening up professional sports would be the ‘end of sports completely.’
Is there a solution?
At a time where many trans athletes are advocating acceptance, the court’s ruling has rejected that. Instead affirming a fixed need for regulated gendered categories.
Within this debate, Semenya became a symbol.
She burst onto the scene at the 2009 world track and field championships but officials subjected her to sex tests following her victory. Ever since, sports pundits have questioned whether a rare biological trait could cause an advantage.
As a result of the court’s decision, Semenya faces some tough choices. Does she take hormone-suppressing drugs; compete against men; enter competitions for intersex athletes?
Or does she drop out of professional sports altogether?
On the topic of a non cisgender-specific category for competitive sports, Navratilova said: ‘I’m not an expert, I’m educating myself as we speak, but a third category… maybe.
‘I’m not saying it’s a solution, but it would allow everybody to compete.’
But to Semenya and her supporters, the notion that biological sex is neat and binary is a way of thinking that shouldn’t be in the running.