Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm has compared drug use in sports to the unfair competitive advantages transgender athletes have in women’s competitions.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist weighed in on the controversial debate on Wednesday as she called for ‘fairness’ within women’s sports.
While she said swimming should be inclusive for everyone, the 29-year-old said she would not want to compete against a transgender woman due to their biologically superior strength.
‘Obviously, we want everyone to be involved. I love my sport and I want to share it with everyone,’ she told Today.
‘But we also need to think about what’s fair for the athletes and how they prepare and perform – we need to have that same level playing field just like we do with drugs in sport.
Australian swimmer Emily Seebohm has called for inclusivity and fairness in women’s sports, but admits it remains ‘unknown’ how the two agendas can be married together
‘I want to know [when I am in the water] that I am in that same field where everyone has that same ability of strength.. speed.. power.
‘Biological males are always going to be faster and stronger than I will ever be in my life and I want to compete on that same level playing field.’
Seebohm said the discussion is still fresh and it remains ‘unknown’ how fairness and inclusion can be married together.
She said it was ultimately up to sporting organisations to work out how the two agendas can be fairly balanced within women’s sport.
The comments come as the controversial debate continues to rage in Australian politics, due to the Save Women’s Sports Bill, proposed by Liberal senator Claire Chandler.
Big name athletes from various sports, including swimmer Emma McKeon and transgender sportswomen Mianne Bagger and Caroline Layt, have since come forward to share their views.
McKeon said she would not be willing to compete with a swimmer who was assigned male at birth.
‘Biological males are always going to be faster and stronger than I will ever be in my life,’ she told the Today show on Wednesday.
‘I want to know that I’m in the same field where everyone has that same ability of strength, has that same ability of speed, that same ability of power.
Emily Seebohm (pictured alongside Kaylee McKeown at the Tokyo Olympics) said she would not want to compete against a biological male
‘I need to make sure that that’s a priority because we want that level playing field. We want to be able to swim and the races be neck and neck because we are even.’
Bagger, a professional golfer who competed as a woman after sex reassignment surgery in 1995, believes biological men do have a physiological advantage and should not be able to compete without any surgical intervention to hinder testosterone.
However, Layt, a former rugby player who had a successful career competing as male before transitioning to female, doesn’t agree with any blanket ban on trans women playing.
She believes all trans women athletes should be allowed to participate in women’s sport if they have taken hormone treatment, with no requirement for gender realignment surgery.
The renewed discussion was sparked by statements from federal Liberal candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves who published, then deleted, tweets criticising the trans community, as she rallies behind the highly-contentious bill.
She compared her organisation, designed to exclude trans people from sport, to the French resistance groups during the Nazi occupation.
Ms Deves has since issued public apologies over her choice of language but Prime Minister Scott Morrison is standing by the embattled candidate.
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has since called for Ms Deves to be disendorsed, saying there was no place in mainstream political parties for bigotry.
‘Political leaders should be condemning the persecution of people based on their gender, not participating in it,’ the treasurer said.
Transgender woman Lia Thomas (left) stands on the podium after winning the 500-yard freestyle as other medalists (L-R) Emma Weyant, Erica Sullivan and Brooke Forde pose for a photo at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship on March 17
NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet has doubled down on his opposition of transgender athletes in women’s sport after texts to Mr Morrison expressing his supports were leaked.
In response, Swimming Australia President Tracy Stockwell this week admitted transgender athletes are set to become a big issue for professional sports and the organisation needs to be ‘prepared’.
Ms Deves’ remarks reheated the topic which was thrusted into the headlines last month March after American swimmer, Lia Thomas, who was born a man, won a major women’s race.
The victory sparked anti-trans protests in the US with critics slamming Thomas’ admission as ‘unfair’, after the swimmer, who narrowly beat Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant, ranked in the mid-500s while competing among men.
Thomas won the 500-yard freestyle at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s championships on Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia, becoming the first transgender athlete to win the event.
Critics argue transgender athletes competing in women’s sports have a physiological advantage, while supporters say they should be able to swim freely as a woman.
After Thomas claimed gold after touching the wall at 4mins 33.24secs – more than a second-and-a-half before Weyant’s 4:34.99 – protesters stormed the stadium with signs reading ‘save women’s sport’.
Prominent athletes including tennis great Martina Navratilova and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, who was born a man and competed among men, have also publicly spoken out in favour of barring transgender athletes from women’s sports.
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