Martina Navratilova joins challenge to Joe Biden’s transgender athletes policy Telegraph 06.02.21

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Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has joined a group of high-profile female athletes who are challenging Joe Biden’s push to allow transgender people to compete in girls’ and women’s competitive sports.

The US president indicated he would move to allow more transgender students take part in school sports as well as allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s competitive sports in an executive order signed on his second day in office.

Under the presidential order, federal agencies must apply existing laws banning discrimination on the basis of race, religion and sex to encompass discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The order states that the policy will also apply to a civil rights law banning discrimination in school or education programmes that receive federal funding, paving the way for transgender students to access sports teams, bathrooms and changing rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

But a coalition of women’s sports leaders, including Ms Navratilova and several Olympic gold medalists, have called on Mr Biden to limit the participation of transgender girls and women who have experienced all or part of male puberty in women’s sports. But a coalition of women’s sports leaders have called on Mr Biden to limit the participation of transgender girls and women who have experienced all or part of male puberty.

The Women’s Sports Policy Working Group, launched the initiative this week to promote what it termed an ethical, science-based approach to address the “vitriolic” public debate.

The group – which includes former Olympic swimmer Donna de Varona and Donna Lopiano, the former head of the Women’s Sports Foundation – has suggested that the inclusion of transgender athletes in competitive sport settings should be based on their physical status.
The group argues that trans girls and women who have never experienced male puberty or “mitigated their sex-linked advantages” should be fully included, but argues against equal access in head-to-head competitions for others.

According to the group, 10 US states require high school students to participate in sports according to their birth sex, effectively banning transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports regardless of whether or not they have begun puberty or received hormone therapy.
Another 17 states and Washington DC require the inclusion of trans girls in girls’ sports irrespective of whether or not they have received hormone therapy or other treatment..

Another 17 states allow trans girls and women to compete after taking gender-affirming hormones for a year, while six states have no policy in place.

“There have been so many different approaches to this issue, from all-inclusion no matter what to all-exclusion no matter what,” Ms Navratilova told USA Today.

“We just wanted to find a better way of moving forward. We know there’s going to be somebody that’s not happy but we’re trying to make it as fair as possible. Now with transgender athletes, the rules are not clear. We need some clarity, we need some unity. We want to stay civil in the conversation and move the ball forward.”

Ms Navratilova, who is lesbian, said she has a “long history of advocating for women’s and LGBTQ rights”.
“In sport, however, advocating for women’s rights means talking sex and sex-linked biology. The performance gap between male athletes and female athletes emerges from the onset of male puberty, and from that point forward even second-tier males can beat the very best females.”

But the American Civil Liberties Union was quick to hit back at the claims, calling it a “myth” that transgender athletes’ “physiological characteristics provide an unfair advantage”.

“Trans athletes vary in ability just like cisgender athletes. In many states, the very same cis girls who have claimed that trans athletes have an ‘unfair’ advantage have consistently performed as well as or better than transgender competitors,” the organisation said.

“Excluding women who are trans hurts all women,” it added. “It invites gender policing that could subject any woman to invasive tests or accusations of being too ‘masculine’ or ‘too good’ at their sport to be a ‘real’ woman.”

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