Tom Daley speaks out on the 'tough' difficulties trans athletes face: 'I don't know how it would work, I've never heard of it in sport'

Daley believes trans people would be 'completely accepted' in diving

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The Independent Online

Olympic diver Tom Daley has spoken out about the difficulties trans people face when competing in sports.

The 21-year-old, who won bronze at the London Olympics in 2012, came out as gay in a YouTube video the following year and announced that he was in a relationship with a man who later emerged to be screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

Since then, he has been catapulted to LGBT icon status and is often asked about gender and sexuality issues during interviews. Daley's latest chat with gay news site Pink News was no different, with Nick Duffy asking him what he thought of the lack of trans athletes.

"The difficult thing with the trans community in sport – I think with the way it works, if you’re a male transitioning into a female, you still sometimes have to compete in the male category? I think that’s a little bit tough," Daley said.

"With diving I feel [trans people] would be completely accepted, but I don’t know how it would work. I’ve never heard of it in sport, actually."

Tom-Daley.jpg
Tom Daley has won medals at world diving competitions

Katie Glover, editor of the popular transgender publication, Frock Magazine said: "As with many transgender related issues, this is difficult area. How do you keep the sport fair without upsetting transitioning individuals, or, to put it another way, how do you accommodate transitioning individuals without upsetting non-trans teammates and/or rivals? 

"Does a male to female trans athlete have an unfair advantage over her genetic female rivals?  I think it must come down to the each sport individually. The people who make the decisions need to really think each case through fairly. And yes, there should be many, many more transgender people in sport at every level, no question!"

The question hit headlines last month after more than 10,000 people signed a petition demanding that Caitlyn Jenner be stripped of the Olympic decathalon men's medal she won as Bruce Jenner in 1976 before her transition.

The International Olympic Committee ruled that the fact Jenner competed as a man will have no bearing on her Olympian status.

Bernard Reed OBE, a trustee of the Gender Identity, Research and Education Society, told The Independent the petition was "total nonsense", and it was decried on social media as "transphobic" and "ridiculous".

Daley said recently that he "still thinks twice" before discussing his sexuality 18 months after coming out.

"As the months have gone on I've felt more and more comfortable saying it and give me another year and I'll probably feel at my most comfortable, but it's still weird," he told Newsbeat.

Daley is now an ambassador for the LGBT helpline Switchboard and is preparing to compete in the Olympics in Rio next year. He has not experienced homophobia himself despite many stories of discrimination in various sports.

"I don't think there should be any reason for there to be any discrimination or homophobia or anything like that in sport because sport is the one place where you're judged on performance and nothing else," he said.

"More and more, especially in diving, that's the only sport I really have experience in, there's no homophobia whatsoever.”

Tom Daley's representatives have been contacted with a request for further comment.

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