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Martina Navratilova has joined more than 300 athletes in a letter expressing support to an Idaho law that bans transgender female student athletes from competing in women’s and girls sports.
Navratilova, one of the most successful tennis players of all time, was one of 309 signatures in a letter expressing opposition to the inclusion of transgender women in sports.
The initiative was headed by a group called Save Women’s Sports, who sent a letter to the board of governors of the National Collegiate Athletic Association “urging it to reject the call to boycott Idaho for protecting the integrity of women’s sports.”
Earlier this year, the Republican governor of Idaho, Brad Little, signed into law House Bill 500, which bans student athletes from competing according to their authentic gender identity. The measure applies to sports teams in all public schools and universities.
Critics say that the law is unconstitutional because it is discriminatory and it violates students’ rights to privacy. Additionally, “there’s simply no data to back up the concerns that proponents of these bills claim to have,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho.
In response against HB500, civil rights advocates have asked NCAA to move men’s basketball tournament games out of state, as Boise State is scheduled to host first- and second-round games next year.
Last month the NCAA announced that it would review the law and discuss any possible actions during a meeting in August.
The letter urged the NCAA to reject the call by activists, arguing that the organization would “send a chilling message” to female athletes across the country if it gives in to activists’ requests.
The names of eight athletes involved in the letter were revealed in a press released last week.
Among them were cyclist Jennifer Wagner-Assali, world-champion track athlete Cynthia Monteleone, and world champion marathon swimmer Sandra Bucha-Kerscher.
This week Outsports was able to obtain a copy of the full list: Navratilova, the legendary tennis player — and openly gay athlete — is signature No. 1.
On Monday, Save Women’s Sports tweeted that, “It is disgraceful that Outsports and other like-minded extremist activist groups are bullying and harassing women simply for standing up for fairness in the sports they love.”
But the organization vowed to “not be silenced.”
Navratilova, who has been living openly as a lesbian since 1981, is no stranger to anti-transgender controversies.
In March 2019 she had to apologize for an essay she’d written for U.K.’s The Sunday Times.
“Letting men compete as woman simply if they change their name and take hormones is unfair,” she wrote, explaining that “the rules on trans athletes reward cheats and punish the innocent.”
In a followup essay posted on her personal blog she seemed ready to make amends, saying that she was sorry for “suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats.”
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