“Navratilova treads a very dangerous line that’s not so far off from Joseph Goebbels’ nomenclature.”
Maybe it was only a matter of time before lesbian tennis legend Martina Navratilova was compared to a Nazi.
Since she came out against transgender women competing in female sports in a since-deleted December tweet, Navratilova has been widely condemned as a bigot. LGBT advocacy group Athlete Ally cut ties with the queer pioneer and accused her of being “transphobic,” while world champion transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon equated her with a Klansman.
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Navratilova tried to quell the controversy in an op-ed for The Sunday Times last month and then this week in a post on her website. But each attempt only amped up the outrage from critics, who have demanded nothing less than her complete self-denunciation.
On Sunday, Dawn Ennis, the managing editor of prominent LGBT website Outsports, charged Navratilova with using Nazi-like speech against transgender athletes in her blog post – which she suggested threatened to make the victims of another Holocaust.
In the offending post, Navratilova, a retired 18-time Grand Slam winner, stood by her basic point that transgender women have an unfair physical advantage over biological women.
She cautioned that “we should be wary of solving the transgender problem (if I may call it that) by creating further categories. For while they are intended to be fair and inclusive, multiple categories can also fragment a sport and cause confusion.”
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At the same time, Navratilova apologized for using the word “cheat” in her op-ed. She called for a conversation based “not on feeling or emotion but science, objectivity and the best interests of women’s sport as a whole,” and expressed openness to “a solution that would work better than current arrangements.”
“If fair and open discussions can be held without preconceptions or prejudice, and without people being vilified as ‘transphobic,’ as I have been along with thousands of others for having a different point of view, by all means count me in!” she concluded.
However, Ennis was unimpressed with Narvatilova’s call for dialog and compromise. Writing in the royal “we” – which implied that she was speaking for her publication if not the entire LGBT community – Ennis insisted that Navratilova’s views remained unacceptably exclusionary as well as unscientific.
Seizing on Navratilova’s reference to “the transgender problem,” Ennis argued in a two-sentence outburst that the phrase was dangerously redolent of genocidal Nazi rhetoric about “the Jewish question.”
“The Nazis had ‘The Jewish Question,’ and history records the horror which its leaders called the ‘Final Solution,'” Ennis said. “Navratilova treads a very dangerous line in asking if this issue of inclusion should be called a name that’s not so far off from Joseph Goebbels’ nomenclature.”
Ennis went on to un-ironically declare that “labels suck,” before advising Navratilova that “the simple solution to avoid being called a ‘transphobe’ or a ‘TERF’ [a derogatory term for transgender-critical feminists] is to not behave like one, or to support their aims of exclusion.”
She concluded her essay by dictating the words that “we” would have wanted Navratilova to utter:
If fair and open discussions can be held without preconceptions or prejudice, and without people being ‘transphobic’ or failing to accept trans women as women, trans men as men, or to recognize that it’s not just ‘having a different point of view’ when someone aims to exclude any athlete from competition because of their gender identity, it’s discrimination… then: by all means count us in!
In the escalating international culture war over transgender rights, LGBT activists have in many cases employed similar scorched-earth tactics against critics of their agenda. Some of their opponents have been pretty ruthless, too.
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