A former Olympic swimmer from England is arguing that trans-identifying males should not compete against female athletes amid intensifying conflict over the issue and following similar words form tennis icon Martina Navratilova.
“I have nothing against anyone who wishes 2be transgender,” former Olympian Sharron Davies tweeted Friday.
“However I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex u r born with & the gender u may identify as."
She added, “To protect women’s sport those with a male sex advantage should not be able 2compete in women’s sport.”
Davies, who won a Silver medal in Women's 400-meter individual medley in the 1980 Olympic games, reiterated her stance in an interview with BBC Sport Saturday saying that she many female athletes with whom she has spoken feel similarly.
"It is not a transphobic thing — I really want to say we have no issue with people who are transgender," she said.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people who are in the races [now] are in a very difficult predicament when they can't speak out. It maybe falls to the people who were competing [in the past] who would understand the predicament that is being faced at the moment to try to create a debate, and try to explain how we feel there needs to be a fair and level playing field."
The professional swimmer's words come on the heels of similar comments made by tennis star and longtime gay rights advocate Martina Navratilova, a lesbian, who recently complained of its unfairness.
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“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires," she wrote in a Feb. 17 op-ed in the Sunday Times.
“It’s insane and it’s cheating,” she said.
Amid pushback and charges of bigotry — LBGT sports group Athlete Ally dropped her as an ambassador for her "transphobic" words — that ensued from transactivists and their allies, Navratilova backtracked and apologized for calling it cheating and posted an update to her comments on her website. She continued to stress the need to protect women and girls in sports and pointed out the physical advantages that men have over women that allow them to dominate when competing against women.
"Can we make sure those advantages are nullified so that women who have transitioned from men have the same level of physical capability they would have had if they been born female? Clearly, we can’t, because you cannot lose those extra inches of height (five inches on average) no matter what you do; some advantages of weight and muscle built up over time are also likely to remain, so to what acceptable degree should they disappear?"
The conflict over whether biological males should be permitted to compete against females in athletics has manifested at the high school level as frustration mounts that trans-identified males are taking away titles and scholarship opportunities set apart for girls.
Selina Soule, a high school female track and field athlete in Connecticut, where the state open indoor track championships was held Feb. 16, has been among the latest to note the unfairness. High school juniors Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, both trans-identified males, took first and second place in the 55-meter dash.
"I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair," she said, according to The News Tribune.
Soule, also a junior, finished 8th in the championships in the 55-meter dash. The top six finishers at the state level go on to the New England regional races. She believes that had Yearwood and Miller not run, she would be on her way to race in Boston in front of college coaches but was denied the opportunity because they were allowed to compete against biological females.