Dame Kelly brands transphobic attack as ‘ridiculous’ in furore over women’s sport
12th March 2019
DAME Kelly Holmes has fought back after being attacked on social media for saying transgender athletes should not be allowed to compete in women’s sport.
She is among several high-profile sports stars who have supported a campaign by Fair Play for Women which ‘aimsto raise public awareness of the impact of trans inclusion on the safety and fairness of female sports, both at the elite and grassroots level’.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova described the idea of a level playing field for women and male-to-female transgender athletes as ‘insane and cheating’.
She was backed by former British swimmer Sharron Davies, a fellow columnist on the Sunday Times, who said ‘those with a male sex advantage should not be able to compete in women’s sport’.
Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly supported Ms Davies. A transgender cyclist then accused her of being ‘transphobic’ and called on her sponsors to stop supporting her.
'That’s my only debate – sport. I totally support trans in all other areas they are fighting against'
Dame Kelly responded by saying: “Calling me transphobic is just ridiculous – far from it. I have an opinion you don’t like... that’s that!”
She said the issue had ‘nothing to do with being transphobic and nothing to do with hatred or stopping people leading their lives as they wish’.
She explained that sport was a different matter ‘for obvious reasons’, adding: “That’s my only debate – sport. I totally support trans in all other areas they are fighting against, like other communities are too.
“When somebody with complete authority and authenticity comes and says that there is NO evidence at all to suggest any advantages I will back down.”
The 48-year-old from Hildenborough is widely regarded as an inspirational figure in female empowerment and also has been open about her struggles with self-harm and depression.
Last Friday she held a full day of workshops and workouts at her 1809 Hub in her home village to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Rachel McKinnon, a Canadian transgender cyclist whowon the UCI Masters Track World Championship title for 35 to 44-year-olds last October, saidDame Kelly’s views were ‘transphobic’.
She tweeted: “So hey Specialized and Garmin have you been following how your athlete Kelly Holmes has been extremely transphobic lately on Twitter?”
Specialized said it would look into Dame Kelly’s comments, tweeting in reply: “Thanks for flagging this, Rachel. This is not representative of our brand values.”
'Not a single trans athlete has even qualified for the Olympics, let alone won a medal'
The company is a prominent bike manufacturer while Garmin makes wearable GPS technology which is used widely in sport, similar to Fitbit.
Dame Kelly responded by saying that involving her sponsors was ‘going about this in the wrong way’.
Ms McKinnon said that since the International Olympic Committee [IOC] said trans women could compete in 2003, ‘not a single trans athlete has even qualified for the Olympics, let alone won a medal’.
The IOC issued an update on its recommendations in 2016, saying that it approved trans participation in the Olympics so long as their levels of testosterone are below a certain point for 12 months before taking part.
Previously, it had required trans athletes to undergo sex reassignment surgery but it changed its views to fit in with changing social perceptions and human rights considerations.