Tony Perkins
YouTube/Fox News

Hate group leader Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) is a huge fan of Martina Navratilova. Who knew? Perkins’ affection for Navratilova is not a result of her prior tennis prowess but because she is supposedly a victim of the dreaded LGBT Agenda™.

On Tuesday Perkins writes: Lesbian Tennis Star Removed From LGBT Charity for Saying Transgender Men Shouldn’t Play Women’s Sports. The piece was published to the blog of the Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Perkins is hopelessly confused. He is referring to transgender women. Some would say it is a deliberate form of denigration. Perkins writes:

Martina Navratilova is an 18-time Grand Slam tennis champion, but now, she’s creating a racket over something else—transgenderism.

Turns out, refusing to stick to the LGBT talking points can land you in a lot of hot water with the left, even if you’re someone as famous as this tennis legend.

After years of identifying as a lesbian, Navratilova has been one of sports’ most visible LGBT faces. But not even she is allowed to commit the movement’s most unforgivable crime—speaking the truth.

Tony Perkins is a rabid anti-LGBT bigot who would deny Ms. Navratilova equal protection and due process. He fights for a self-manufactured “right” to discriminate against Navratilova in the guise of religious liberty. Perkins seeks to exploit divisions in the LGBT community. Perkins has also found, it seems, yet another means of shaming us.

On Feb. 17 Navratilova wrote an Op-Ed in the Times of London titled The rules on trans athletes reward cheats and punish the innocent. What immediately struck me from the title was the notion that there are guilty and innocent people involved in who can compete in athletic competitions. Her subtitle reads:

Letting men compete as women simply if they change their name and take hormones is unfair — no matter how those athletes may throw their weight around.

In reaction, Athlete Ally — an advocacy group for LGBT people in sports — expelled Navratilova from their advisory board, claiming that the tennis star is transphobic.

Navratilova has been a powerful LGBT presence in sports and a relentless advocate. She bravely came out quite early in her career, at a time when she put her very existence in professional tennis at risk. Outsports‘ founder, Cyd Zeigler, told The Nation that what Athlete Ally did was a crass publicity stunt and that the organization should have worked with Navratilova to “find common ground.”

While Zeigler is correct in principle, I do not think that he should have characterized Athlete Ally’s actions as a publicity stunt. Doing so presupposes knowledge of Athlete Ally’s motives which is always a risky proposition. I eagerly concede that Mr. Zeigler knows a great deal more about Athlete Ally than I do. For the record, Athlete Ally has an impressive advisory board and a nice websites. As advocacy organizations go, it is relatively small. 2017 revenues were just under $1 million.

I think that Athlete Ally could have distanced themselves from Navratilova’s Op-Ed without throwing the LGBT legend into the turbines. And she is a living LGBT legend. Having said that I do not like what Navratilova wrote nor the way that she wrote it. I can respect Navratilova and all of her accomplishments while still disagreeing with her on this issue.

There exists a legitimate question about trans women competing in women’s sports. The International Olympic Committee has resolved this with levels of testosterone. The world’s first openly transgender athlete, Renée Richards, has publicly once stated that she had an unfair advantage:

Having lived for the past 30 years, I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me.

There is no way to know if Dr. Richards’ statement is true. She, by the way, was one of Martina Navratilova’s coaches at some point. Even if Richards is correct, Navratilova was transphobic in the way that she expressed “simply if they change their name and take hormones.” Dr. Richards is the perfect example. The esteemed ophthalmologist and tennis star did not simply change her name and take hormones. Richards fought hard for the right to compete and overcame many challenges.

Combined with the title of her piece Navratilova is suggesting that people are becoming transgender for the sole purpose of competing in sports with an advantage. To put it mildly, I can find no evidence of anyone doing so. I also take exception to the way Navratilova wrote: “no matter how much those athletes throw their weight around.”

I take that as an indication that Navratilova was angry at the time that she submitted her piece. I am not transgender and I was offended by how Navratilova framed the argument. The bottom line is that I wish she had reached out and posed her opinion in the form of a question. (The Jeopardy proposition.)

The Op-Ed served no constructive purpose. Instead of engendering a discussion it started an altercation. It caused people within the LGBT community to choose sides and argue with those on the other side. We do not have the luxury of fighting within our own community.

Athlete Ally chose a side. I wish that they had not done so. Perhaps they could have redirected this to a constructive conversation.

We also need to employ an extra level of scrutiny to what we say about transgender people. I can think of no minority group that is more fragile, more marginalized and more persecuted. Ms. Navratilova could have demonstrated more sensitivity to their plight.

Getting back to the odious Tony Perkins, we will not be divided by squabbles within our community. We may disagree about certain things but, in the end, we will always come together in service to equality. Responsible LGBT spokespersons will not entertain any form of “drop the T.” We are all similarly situated and we have a common adversary; including a certain hate group.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.