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'It's a Different Beast': Former NBA Champ Opens Up on Transgender Issue in Sports

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Former NBA star Matt Barnes said in no uncertain terms in an interview last week that he thinks transgender athletes should not play in whatever league they identify with. Anyone born a man should play men’s sports and anyone born a woman should play women’s sports, Barnes said.

In an interview on Oct. 21 with VladTV, Barnes said that he does not care what people do in their personal lives, but when it comes to sports, everyone should be playing according to their actual sex.

“I don’t like that,” Barnes said when asked what he thought about transgender players possibly playing in the WNBA.

“To each his own. You want to be whatever you want to be, but if you’re born a certain you should play it. Whatever you’re born, to me, I feel like you should play in that space. To me, you that the swimmer and all this kind of stuff, and again, I’m pro-make your choice, do you, do this, but you know, sports is different. Sports is a different beast,” Barnes said.

“To me, I don’t like that. If you’re born a woman I think you should play in women’s sports. And if you’re born a man, you should play man’s sports,” the former NBA player added.

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Barnes said that he is supportive of people doing whatever they want in their personal life.

“I just think the sports thing is just a little different,” he said.

The interviewer posed a scenario of NBA star Kevin Durant putting on a wig and playing in the WNBA. Durant would dominate, the interviewer and Barnes noted.

Should transgender athletes be restricted to competing as the gender they were born with??

“It would change the whole dynamic of the game … to each his own and respect whatever personal decisions you want to make, but when it comes to sports, I think crossing that line is a line that shouldn’t be crossed,” Barnes said.

The issue of transgender athletes in sports has become an increasingly spotlighted issue, particularly after the controversy over the University of Pennsylvania swimmer, Lia Thomas, who transitioned to a woman and began swimming for the female team, according to ESPN.

Some of Barnes’ comments even addressed the issue surrounding Thomas, since that has been such a landmark example.

Though Thomas won a championship for the women’s swim team, Barnes commented how Thomas, who competed for years as a man, was “very average on the men’s side.”

Barnes’ blunt comments on the issue have stirred a lot of commentary on Twitter, with some calling him transphobic and others agreeing with him and saying that sports need to be protected.

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“Vast majority of men who are extremely triggered by trans athletes dont even watch the WNBA. So if it doesnt affect you then why do you care…??? Maybe channel that passion into WNBA fandom instead of transphobic anger over a hypothetical situation that probably wont ever occur,” one user critically commented in response to Barnes’ thoughts.

Other users, though, pointed out that the whole issue has the potential to hurt women’s sports in particular.

“They shouldn’t play in the NBA bcus they are genetically a man. Which means they are still stronger than a women who plays that sport. It’s not fair for women who were actually born a women. It’s just not,” one user posted.

Barnes has not made any further comments on the issue.

Barnes played in the NBA for 14 years, from 2003 to 2017, according to Basketball Reference.

He moved around the league quite a bit and played for nine different franchises during his career: the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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