Another problem solved
Martina Navratilova, the former tennis player has got herself into hot water over comments about transgender people competing in sport. Because she questioned whether former men should be allowed to participate in women’s events, she has been kicked out of a couple of LGBT advisory bodies and described as ‘deeply transphobic.’ I suspect a lot of people share her thoughts, but just don’t express them – it’s a complex area which challenges all sorts of assumptions. I was put in mind of this whilst listening to BBC Radio Four’s You and Yours phone-in programme, which was asking listeners to talk about changing their mind. First on was Samantha, a lawyer, who had changed her mind about her sex three times, with surgery each time, it seems. She changed her mind, she said for family reasons. For those who share Navratilova’s views, being able to change your mind, not once, not twice but three times about your sex might bolster a suspicion that others might do it for personal advantage. I’m not sure that’s tenable – would anyone really change their sex to gain an advantage in sport? It hardly seems credible. Then again, accusations were always being made about female athletes from former Soviet bloc countries winning Olympic medals after allegedly taking drugs such as anabolic steroids, e.g. Heidi Krieger.
One way out of this impasse of course would be to simply end all genderisation in sport. Let anybody do anything without discrimination. That is, after all the legally mandated norm elsewhere in society, even to the extent that (heavens above!) we now have female fighter pilots and combat troops. And to those who say women couldn’t compete with men in sport, I simply say: Beryl Burton.
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