Martina Navratilova has apologized for her controversial remarks about the participation of transgender athletes in women's sport.
The tennis legend caused a stir by saying that allowing athletes that have transitioned from male to female to compete with women is "insane" and akin to "cheating."
The 62-year-old was dropped as an ambassador for LGBTQ athletic advocacy group Athlete Ally as a result of her comments.
Navratilova on Sunday stated she was sorry to those who took issue with her remarks, stating that she was attempting to open up a debate on equality and fairness in relation to transgender participation in women's sport.
The 18-time grand slam singles champion wrote in a lengthy post on her website: "I know that my use of the word 'cheat' caused particular offense among the transgender community. I'm sorry for that because I certainly was not suggesting that transgender athletes in general are cheats.
"I attached the label to a notional case in which someone cynically changes gender, perhaps temporarily, to gain a competitive advantage.
"We should not be blind to the possibility and some of these rules are making that possible and legal. The context may be different, but the case of Lance Armstrong, and the harm he did to his sport, is surely instructive."
She added: "Needless to say, I have always and will always be a champion of democracy, equal rights, human rights and full protection under the law for everyone.
"When I talk about sports and rules that must be fair, I am not trying to exclude trans people from living a full, healthy life.
"And I am certainly not advocating violence against trans people, as has been suggested. All I am trying to do is to make sure girls and women who were born female are competing on as level a playing field as possible within their sport."
In a statement, Vancouver Rape Relief said they were the victim of 'discrimination against women in the name of inclusion'
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Canada’s oldest rape crisis centre, has been stripped of city funding after refusing to rescind its policy of only serving female-born women.
In a statement, the organization said they were the victim of “discrimination against women in the name of inclusion” and accused Vancouver City Council of trying to “coerce us to change our position.”
Meanwhile, the measure was cheered by activists who have long singled out Vancouver Rape Relief as a bastion of “trans-exclusionary” behaviour.
After the vote, Vancouver city councillor Christine Boyle posted a tweet to her account accusing the organization of “supporting transphobia.”
“Trans women are women and sex work is work … I can’t support (organizations) who exclude them,” Boyle wrote in an accompanying note.
The defunding is the latest flashpoint in an ongoing struggle between transgender activists and feminist organizations who maintain that female-born and male-born women should remain distinct groups.
One of the figures leading the defunding charge against Vancouver Rape Relief was Morgane Oger, a longstanding transgender advocate and vice president of the B.C. NDP.
In comments before a March 13 city committee meeting, Oger called Vancouver Rape Relief “noncompliant with Canadian law” and guilty of “systematic, consistent misbehaviour.” She also said that it is the last B.C. women’s shelter to continue denying services to the trans community.
“I can open any organization I want and discriminate against the people I don’t like … but when I start to bring taxpayer funding into this it makes this entire room responsible for my actions,” she said.
The group’s city funding will dry up starting in 2020. According to the measure pulling the money, Vancouver Rape Relief cannot access City of Vancouver grants “until such time as the organization makes changes to become aligned with … City policies.”
The City of Vancouver money represents only $33,972 of Vancouver Rape Relief’s more than $1 million per year budget (most of which is provided by the Province of B.C.). The City of Vancouver money was used for educational outreach programs, which Vancouver Rape Relief said were “free and accessible and available to everyone,” including trans people.
Founded in 1974, Vancouver Rape Relief has long attracted fierce criticism for refusing to admit trans women into its core services such as peer counselling sessions, shelters or transition homes.
In 2017, the official opening of the Vancouver Women’s Library, a space with links to Vancouver Rape Relief, was hijacked by protesters who handed out pamphlets reading “this library is run by women who hate other women.”
When the Licorice Parlour, an East Vancouver candy store, put up a poster in support of a Vancouver Rape Relief fundraiser in May, the shop was hit with online harassment and negative reviews for being “oppressive” and “transphobic.”
Vancouver Rape Relief has said that while they believe trans women need support and protection from violence, their “lived experience” is fundamentally different from a female-born woman.
“We do not have the experience to offer services to people without the same life experience … this is not our work,” Vancouver Rape Relief representative Hilla Kerner told a City a Vancouver committee last week.
In denying service to trans women, Kerner said their group was no different than other city-supported organizations who reserve their services towards a particular demographic group, be it immigrants, Chinese-speakers or native youth.
“Because we are an oppressed group who fights for equality we have a right to decide who are membership is and who we serve,” she said.
Men are strictly banned from spaces operated by Vancouver Rape Relief, and the organization has previously argued that their clients, all of whom are recovering from male violence, do not feel comfortable while in the presence of someone who used to live as a man. “Even deep voices, male insignia like baseball caps and boots can make women nervous,” wrote Lee Lakeman, a founder of the centre, in 2006.
More recently, in a January talk at Vancouver Public Library, Lakeman said “to me, this discussion of ‘inclusion’ is really the conduct of the backlash against feminism.”
In 2017, the agency even spoke against a federal measure to recognize “gender expression” and “gender identity” as protected human rights, saying it could be used to “undermine the rights of women.”
In 1995, the organization was the subject of a discrimination lawsuit led by Kimberly Nixon, a post-operative transgender woman who was denied Vancouver Rape Relief programming.
“She was rejected from the training program because she did not share the same life experiences as women born and raised as girls and into womenhood,” writes Vancouver Rape Relief on their website.
The B.C. Court of Appeals ultimately ruled in favour of Vancouver Rape Relief, and a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied.
A transgender woman has spoken out after a video went viral of her being attacked near a rally in central Paris against Algeria's ailing president.
Julia has described being targeted by three men in the Place de la République.
"You're a man, you're not going anywhere, you're not coming past," she was told, as she was pushed and punched while trying get through the crowd.
Prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the attack.
Appearing on French TV and radio, Julia said she had never experienced anything quite like it.
"The violence against this [transgender] community takes place every day. But some people won't have the strength that I have and they'll be destroyed by these attacks," she said.
What happened in central Paris?
Julia, 31, was set upon on Sunday as she walked up steps at the metro station in the Place de la République. A big rally was taking place in the square against Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria's long-ruling 82-year-old president, who has since announced his resignation.
Wearing a black-and-white striped blouse, Julia was blocked by protesters who taunted her in Arabic.
One man ruffled her hair, while a girl draped in an Algerian flag came to try to help Julia. After the girl moved on, a man repeatedly punched Julia while another could be seen kicking at her.
Transport police then intervened and led the victim to safety. However, French group Stop Homophobie said the transport officers had called her "Monsieur" and told her "not to dress like that".
Video of the attack has gone viral in France, and Julia then decided to give her account of what had happened.
"I wanted to go down and take the metro. Three people were blocking my way, and one said: 'Oh but actually you're a man - we won't let you through,'" she told France Inter radio.
Julia said one of the men had even exposed himself in front of her while the others then started throwing beer over her.
"I'm not necessarily expecting these people to be punished but I want things to move forward and for the way people think to evolve," she told BFMTV.
Julia later made clear that the attack had nothing to do with the Algerian community but was carried out by ignorant people, regardless of their origin or religion.
The Paris prosecutor has opened a case for violence due to sexual orientation and gender identity. Political leaders, including Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa, have condemned the attack.
Negy grew up as Southern Baptist in Texas and didn't begin to question his religious beliefs until he was a college student in Spain and learned about Islam. He found himself thinking, "Is Jesus the true prophet or is Mohammed? What proof is there that either is?"
"And then I realized, 'Oh, my God, I've been believing this for 25 years because everyone around me believes it,' " Negy said. "I understand if you are raised to never think critically, and question those beliefs, you are shocked that anyone would question that validity. That's what I want to do in my class."