Transgender women in women’s sports have become a flash point in the United States over the past 18 months after Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship.
Even as the notion of transgender participation is injected into the political mainstream, former NBA star Gilbert Arenas said in a recent interview that he couldn’t see a transgender woman playing in the WNBA.
«It will not happen. It won’t even happen at the high school level. The reason is… Hoop has his own entity from him,” Arenas said. «A basketball woman, your elite woman, thinks she could compete with men. She doesn’t even consider women as equals. So when you talk about Candace Parkers and stuff, they want to train with men. So you’re not going to have a man who’s so good that he’s like, ‘Hey, I want to go against the girls.’ Because if they’re that good, then they’re still competing with the guys.»
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When the interviewer hypothesized that a male basketball player would not be good enough to play in the NBA and would decide to become transgender to play in the WNBA, Arenas shook his head as if to say that would never happen.
«They will play basketball abroad… If they were already good enough, then they will play with guys… What I’m saying is if there’s a trans player and he’s that good, he’s practicing and playing with the men anyway.» explained. “They are too good for women, that is below them. So you’re not going to have a ‘Juwanna Mann’. No one is going to lower your ability to play.
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«If you take the top 10 girls and say, ‘Okay, you guys have a chance to try out for the NBA, would you?’ They’re going to say, ‘f—yes.’…A hooper wants to be at the highest level.So if the NBA is the highest level for a hooper, they don’t want to be considered women right now, I said.
«You can ask Candace Parker, she’ll say, ‘I’m a WNBA player. I’m not a WNBA player. Rules,’ she’s going to play boys’ ball. She’s not going to play girls’ ball. If I have a shootout with a WNBA player, she’s not going to want to use her ball. You’re not going to make me feel less than a bullfighter.»
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While there may not be transgender athletes in the WNBA, Out Sports estimated last year that around 20% of WNBA rosters had a «publicly outside» member of the LGBT community.