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Megan Rapinoe and Martina Navratilova Spar Over Trans Women in Sports

Megan Rapinoe and Martina Navratilova Spar Over Trans Women in Sports

Martina Navratilova and Megan Rapinoe

The tennis icon had a one-word response to the soccer star’s thoughts on trans inclusion in sports.

When out soccer star Megan Rapinoe revealed she would have no problem competing with a trans woman on the U.S. women’s national team, tennis great Martina Navratilova had a one-word response.

“It’s particularly frustrating when women’s sports is weaponized,” Rapinoe told Time on Monday, ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. “Oh, now we care about fairness? Now we care about women’s sports? That’s total b*llsh*t. And show me all the trans people who are nefariously taking advantage of being trans in sports. It’s just not happening,”

Rapinoe told the magazine that Navratilova, ESPN anchor Sage Steele, and comedian Dave Chappelle were partly to blame for the rise in transphobia in the U.S.

“Dave Chappelle making jokes about trans people directly leads to violence, whether it’s verbal or otherwise, against trans people,” Rapinoe told Time. “When Martina or Sage or whoever are talking about this, people aren’t hearing it just in the context of elite sports. They’re saying, ‘The rest of my life, this is how I’m going to treat trans people.’”

Navratilova wrote one word in response.

“Yikes,” Navratilova posted to social media with a CNN article about Rapinoe’s comments.

The queer Czech-born American tennis icon known simply as Martina won 18 Grand Slam titles over her illustrious career. An out lesbian, she has been a defender of lesbian and gay rights but strenuously objects to trans women and girls competing in sports for women and girls.

Navratilova recently praised a decision by World Athletics banning trans women from competing as women in international track and field competitions but said in a recent opinion piece the decision didn’t go far enough.

“In the wake of World Athletics’ announcement, I think the best idea would be to have ‘biological female’ and ‘biological girls’ categories and then an ‘open’ category,” Navratilova wrote in the Times of London, advancing her belief that trans women are taking the sport of biological women in these sporting events. “It would be a category for all-comers: men who identify as men; women who identify as women; women who identify as men; men who identify as women; non-binary – it would be a catch-all. This is already being explored in athletics and swimming in Britain.”

Rapinoe rejected Navratilova’s arguments.

“You’re taking a ‘real’ woman’s place, that’s the part of the argument that’s still extremely transphobic,” Rapinoe told Time. “I see trans women as real women. What you’re saying automatically in the argument – you’re sort of telling on yourself already – is you don’t believe these people are women. Therefore, they’re ‘taking the other spot.’ I don’t feel that way.”

Rapinoe announced in a press conference last week that she plans to retire at the end of the 2023 season. She has been a fixture on the U.S. women’s soccer team since she joined it in 2006.

“I could have just never imagined where this beautiful game would have taken me,” Rapinoe told The New York Times. “I feel so honored to have represented this country, this federation for so many years.”

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