UK TV personality Piers Morgan has won praise for defending Martina Navratilova after the tennis great apologized for comments about transgender women athletes, with Morgan saying Navratilova had been “viciously vilified.”
Navratilova, 62, backed down over the weekend after she faced a backlash from some online for saying it was “cheating” and “insane” for trans women to compete in women’s sports.
The 18-time Grand Slam winner had faced particularly fierce criticism from LGBT groups including America-based Ally Athlete, who broke off a partnership with her.
But prominent UK TV pundit Morgan has staunchly defended Navratilova, writing in a tweet to his 6.5 million followers: “It’s not ‘transphobic’ to believe transgender women have an unfair physical advantage in women’s spot – it’s a biological fact.”
In his regular column for the Daily Mail, Morgan suggested a scenario in which a lower-ranking professional male tennis player decided to transition to becoming a woman and compete on the female tour.
Such a situation, Morgan says, would mean even all-time women’s great Serena Williams would not stand a chance.
“He, now she, would instantly be the best female tennis player that’s ever lived,” Morgan wrote.
“She would destroy Serena Williams, and every other woman player.
“She would win every major tournament, break every women’s tennis record, and win tens, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
“And she would kill women’s tennis forever.”
Morgan also defender former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, who recently spoke out against trans women competing in women’s sport – only to be branded “transphobic” by some.
I have nothing against anyone who wishes 2be transgender. 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
— Sharron Davies MBE (@sharrond62) March 1, 2019
“It’s the go-to weapon to silence anyone these days – just call them a ‘phobe’ even when they respectfully suggest something is self-evidently unfair,” Morgan wrote.
“I’ve watched all this with astonishment.
“First, at the fact we are even having this debate when Martina Navratilova is so obviously right.
“Second, that anyone like her who dares to say this is being subjected to the most appalling bullying in a bid to silence an opinion the notoriously aggressive transgender lobby doesn’t want to hear.”
Morgan’s defense has gained traction online, with his original post being liked more than 1,400 times inside two hours, and with many users agreeing there is an inherent unfairness in trans women competing in women’s sport.
It’s 100% true. Y’all can do whatever you want with your body, but trying to ‘compete’ in a female sport, when you were born as a boy, is simply an unfair advantage 🆚 the other females. Almost like being on steroids. It’s just true.🤷♂️
— Rayao’ (@UnRayao) March 4, 2019
Quite simply Piers, they are making a total mockery of woman’s sports and athletics, and also making all the hard work and dedication that the sportswomen have put in over all the long years seem almost worthless. The sportswomen are at a totally unfair disadvantage.
— Jimi Walsh (@JimiWalsh) March 4, 2019
UK double Olympic gold medalist runner Kelly Holmes also backed Morgan, saying: “Nothing to do with being Transphobic and nothing to do with hatred or stopping people leading their lives as they wish. But in sport it’s a different matter for obvious reasons.”
@piersmorgan totally agree with you and @Martina on this. Nothing to do with being Transphobic and nothing to do with hatred or stopping people leading their lives as they wish. But in sport it’s a different matter for obvious reasons.
— Kelly Holmes (@damekellyholmes) March 4, 2019
While the debate will rumble on, Morgan and others are leading the fightback against what they see as a growing injustice in sport.