Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Finding Common Ground on the Green the Tennis Legend and the Trans Golfer

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Finding Common Ground on the Green the Tennis Legend and the Trans Golfer

Article excerpt

Byline: Samuel Fishwick The Viewer

The Trans Athlete Dispute with Martina Navratilova BBC One, 9pm REGARDLESS of the fact that it's Pride Month, The Trans Athlete Dispute with Martina Navratilova is necessary viewing. Suspend judgment, if you can spare an hour.

It is a subject that inflames and agitates. Can anyone who was born biologically male, with the physiological advantages male adolescence confers, be considered to be a fair competitor in women's sport, even if they now identify as a woman? In the US, we are told, 17 states allow trans high-school athletes to compete without any restriction but in Connecticut, female athletes have brought a discrimination case because they feel they are being denied top finishes and, possibly, college scholarships.

Many athletes fear that the advantages of testosterone can never be mitigated, even with hormone treatment. "I don't want ... races to be won by biology, instead of by talent," says former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, who opposes transgender athletes being allowed to compete in women's sport.

Davies is still furious that she was beaten to the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow by East Germany's Petra Schneider, who later admitted she was administered testosterone as part of a state-run doping programme.

That was a case of a deliberate, coercive doping. But the issue of transgender athletes is complicated. In May this year the South African Olympic champion middle-distance runner Caster Semenya lost a landmark case against the IAAF, the governing body for athletics, meaning it will be allowed to restrict testosterone levels in female runners. Semenya is female but has differences of sexual development (DSD).

Navratilova is diligent in closing the knowledge gap, yet not impartial. In December the tennis legend and gay rights campaigner tweeted: "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. …

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