Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has
apologized for calling transgender athletes “cheats.”
Last month, Navratilova, who came out
lesbian in 1981, wrote an op-ed published in the Sunday Times of
London titled “The Rules on Trans Athletes Rewards Cheats and
Punish the Innocent.”
“It's insane and it's cheating,”
“Simply reducing hormone levels –
the prescription most sports have adopted – does not solve the
problem. A man builds up muscle and bone density, as well as a
greater number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, from childhood,”
Navratilova said, a reference to guidelines that specify testosterone
levels for transgender women to compete.
Writing on her personal website over
the weekend, Navratilova said that she was sorry for using the word
“I know that my use of the word
'cheat' caused particular offense among the transgender community,”
she wrote. “I'm sorry for that because I certainly was not
suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats.”
Navratilova suggested that she was
“The support I normally get from 'my
people,' the LGBT community, was replaced by a barrage of quite nasty
personal attacks,” she wrote.
She added that her concern was for a
level playing field.
“All I am trying to do is to make
sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a
playing field as possible within their sport,” Navratilova said.
Athlete Ally, a non-profit dedicated to
ending homophobia and transphobia in sports, responded to
Navratilova's original comments by dropping her from its advisory
board and removing her from its ambassador program.
The group called Navratilova's comments
“transphobic” and accused her of promoting “dangerous myths
that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through
discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate