Earlier this year 18-time Grand Slam tennis champion Martina Navratilova divided many in women’s sports by suggesting that trans women participating in men’s sports were effectively ‘cheating’.
Debate has raged on about who should be eligible to participate in women’s professional sport, and how it may change the outlook of sports in trans women are allowed to compete.
Nicola Williams is the spokeswoman for Fair Play for Women, a group that campaigns for fairness and safety for women.
“We’ll have a situation where women’s sport will involve two types of participants, there will be the male bodied participants, and the female bodied participants,” she told MM.
“What we’ll see is the male bodied women, essentially, that will be selected and the female bodied women, eventually will just simply not be a part of women’s sport, and that’s an absolute travesty, and that cannot be allowed to happen.”
However Sarah*, a trans woman who competes in a Greater Manchester women’s basketball league, suggests that this is not necessarily the case.
“That’s what people are saying, that Trans women are dominating, and in my instance I’m very good and I can do some great things, but I’m not dominating.”
Figures on the participation of trans women in competitive sports are hard to come by, as many regulatory bodies are prohibited from ‘outing’ their athletes.
On alternative options to trans participation, Williams suggests an open competition, where men, women and trans athletes can all compete.
Sports which do not tend to rely on physiological prowess have adopted this approach, such as equestrian sports and snooker.
— FairPlayForWomen (@fairplaywomen) July 10, 2019
In 2013, Englishwoman Reanne Evans became the first woman to reach the final stages of a ranking snooker tournament, which are traditionally dominated by men.
The other option, Williams suggests, is a transgender category, that only trans women can compete in.
However Sarah suggests the talent pool would be too small.
“There’s not enough. There’s not many people that are trans, we are a very very small part of the population and it’s been blown up to mainstream media.”
*The name has been changed at the request of the interviewee.