Former Olympian Sharron Davies MBE has been accused of “fuelling hate” after saying that transgender women should not be allowed to compete in female sport.
The competitive swimmer, who won a swimming silver at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and two Commonwealth golds, said that her comments were not transphobic and claimed she had spoken to many other female athletes who “feel the same way”.
“I have nothing against anyone who wishes 2be transgender [sic]”, Davies wrote on Twitter.
“However I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex u r born with & the gender u may identify as.
“To protect women’s sport those with a male sex advantage should not be able 2compete in women’s sport.”
The tweet has since received more than 22,000 likes and 3,000 retweets.
However, others criticised Davies, with some even calling for her to be stripped of her MBE.
“Well done Sharon, fuel the hate!,” one person wrote.
“No one chooses to be Transgender. You have no idea about what it is like to be TG. Shame on you! StriptheMBE.”
Another commented: “The use of the word “wishes” suggests you might have fundamentally misunderstood a key aspect of this issue.”
A third person added: “Absolutely heartbreaking to see UK sport stars coming out as transphobic.
“You don’t see trans women as women, you are also supporting transphobic hate groups. Heartbreaking.”
Davies has since defended her comments, claiming that she’s not the only female athlete who feels this way.
“It is not a transphobic thing - I really want to say we have no issue with people who are transgender,“ she told the BBC.
”Every single woman athlete I've spoken to, and I have spoken to many, all of my friends in international sports, understand and feel the same way as me.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people who are in the races [now] are in a very difficult predicament when they can't speak out. It maybe falls to the people who were competing [in the past] who would understand the predicament that is being faced at the moment to try to create a debate, and try to explain how we feel there needs to be a fair and level playing field.”
The debate comes just weeks after 18-time tennis Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova said it was “cheating” to allow transgender women to compete in female sporting competitions because they had unfair physical advantages.
“I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair,” Navratilova wrote in The Sunday Times.
“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.
“It’s insane and it’s cheating.”
A spokesperson for the Stonewall charity said: “Sport should be welcoming to everyone, including trans people. We need clubs and governing bodies, as the experts, to consider how their sports’ individual policies can work to be as inclusive as possible, and what advice and guidance they’re giving to ensure all people, including trans people, can take part in sport.”
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