U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received praise from sportswomen and the wider public for saying biological males should not be permitted to compete in female-only sports events.
During a visit to a hospital in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire on Wednesday, Johnson acknowledged that his views may be “controversial” but expressed concern about the direction of travel the transgender debate was headed, and called for parents to be involved in decisions made by children to alter their gender, as well as backing female-only spaces in changing rooms and prisons.
One incident to have received global attention on this issue recently relates to U.S. transgender swimmer Lia Thomas who caused controversy in December when she qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships via a race in which she was 38 seconds faster than any other competitor.
“I don’t think that biological males should be competing in female sporting events. And maybe that’s a controversial thing but it just seems to me to be sensible,” Johnson insisted.
“And I also happen to think that women should have spaces which are — whether it’s in hospitals or prisons or changing rooms or wherever — which are dedicated to women,” the U.K. prime minister added.
“That’s as far as my thinking has developed on this issue. And if that puts me in conflict with some others, then we have got to work it all out.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m not immensely sympathetic to people who want to change gender, to transition and it’s vital that we give people the maximum possible love and support in making those decisions,” Johnson concluded.
His comments were widely reported across the British mainstream media and led to praise from a number of prominent sportswomen including former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies who tweeted: “Thank you, Boris.”
Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist Nicole Cooke added: “Really pleased to see politicians working towards fair sports categories for trans women and athletes.”
Johnson’s comments are a world away from his political opponent, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who last month refused to offer his view on whether or not a woman could have a penis, telling LBC radio talk show host Nick Ferrari such questions were “unhelpful.”
“I’m not… I don’t think we can conduct this debate with… I don’t think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run,” replied Starmer to the probe.