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Man, that wouldn't be fair: Olympics hero dives into trans-athlete debate

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Queensland swimming superstar Emma McKeon has become the latest female athlete to wade into the searing sporting and political controversy over transgender athletes, claiming it wouldn’t be fair to have to defend her record against a trans swimmer.

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Despite arguing transgender women should be included in the sport and Australian swimming should adopt an inclusive approach, McKeon said racing against a swimmer who was biologically male was “just not fair”.

“I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that’s a concern,” McKeon said.

“It’s not a new thing, but it’s new in that sport, swimming, are going to have to deal with it.”

McKeon, who has just been granted a “wild card” nomination into this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham off the back of her seven-medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics, said she didn’t expect she would have to take the blocks against a trans athlete.

“I don’t think I’m going to have to race against a trans swimmer, I don’t think it’s going to come to that point,” the Gold Coast-based swimmer said.

“But now that it’s a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don’t want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it’s just not fair.”

McKeon’s comments at Griffith University’s latest In Conversation event held at the Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA), come as calls to have transgender women banned from sport have erupted into a highly divisive national election campaign issue.

Lightning rod in the storm, NSW Liberal candidate and Prime Ministerial ‘captain’s pick’, Katherine Deves, continues to face calls she be dis-endorsed over her campaigning against transgender women in sport.

Deves has also not only called for transgender women to be banned from female sport, but claimed transgender children are being “surgically mutilated” and compared the backlash against people who did not support teenagers transitioning to the “Grudge trials of the Third Reich”.

She has also subsequently had to apologise over further statements and social media posts for claims including that “half of all males with trans identities are sex offenders.”

However, she still retains Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s backing.  Morrison also initially supported a private member’s bill to ban transgender women from competing in female sports that has been introduced into the Senate.

Tasmanian Liberal Senator Claire Chandler introduced what she called her “save women’s sport” bill in February.

It aims to make changes to the Sex Discrimination Act to “clarify” that the operation of single-sex sport on the basis of biological sex was not discriminatory.

At the time it was introduced, Morrison called the proposal “terrific” and encouraged Chandler to pursue it.

Deves claimed she had a key role in developing the bill.

Deves is running against the sitting member for Warringah, Independent Zali Steggall, a former elite athlete and Olympic medallist, who won the seat from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian Netball Players Association CEO Kathryn Harby-Williams told the Griffith University event that sport, particularly women’s sport, needed to come to terms with the issue quickly.

She said netball, the nation’s biggest team sport and number one participation sport for women and girls in Australia, had long had a transgender policy.

In that time, Harby-Williams said she had not heard of anyone challenging or needing to reference the framework to be able to play.

“I’m so pleased that our sport has a policy at the elite level that is starting to filter down. It needs to go further but that will happen, and it will probably be accelerated given the spotlight being thrown on it,” she said.

 

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