Credit: Screen grab
Olympic Swimmer Shares Photo of Transgender Athlete Next to Much Smaller Teammates

Olympic Swimmer Shares Photo of Transgender Athlete Next to Much Smaller Teammates

“I just don’t understand how anyone can say this is a level & fair playing field.”

British Olympic medalist Sharron Davies weighed in Monday on the current furor over the role of transgender athletes in sports by sharing a photograph of a trans basketball player standing next to much smaller teammates.

Featured in the photograph is Gabrielle Ludwig, a 6-foot-6-inch tall transgender woman profiled by ESPN in 2013 while playing for the Mission College women’s basketball team. Ludwig was 52-years-old at the time.

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Davies apparently intended to use the visual to suggest that letting transgender athletes compete against biological women is self-evidently absurd. “I just don’t understand how anyone can say this is a level & fair playing field,” she tweeted. “1000% increase in trans women taking part in sport recently. It’s a serious topic that has to be honestly dealt with for safety as much as integrity.”

Recent comments by respected veterans of sport, such as tennis legend Martina Navratilova, have broken the debate surrounding transgender athletes into the public consciousness.

Since coming 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.

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.

Other sports icons who have come forward to express reservations about letting transgender athletes compete have faced similar treatment.

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After Kelly Holmes indicated her skepticism regarding the notion that transgender competitors have no advantages against biological women, McKinnon reached out to two companies that sponsor the British Olympian to alert them to Holmes’ alleged “extremely transphobic” behavior.

“Yes that’s my only debate – sport,” Holmes tweeted. “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.”

Pluralist’s Andrew Tobin contributed to this report.

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Cover image: Sharron Davies (Screen grab)



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