A biological man who identifies as a transgender woman won a women’s world championship cycling event over the weekend, prompting a mixed response of congratulations and criticism.
Rachel McKinnon, a professor at the College of Charleston, was victorious in the women’s sprint for ages 35-39 at the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships held in Los Angeles.
McKinnon, who was born a male, took to Twitter to celebrate her much-heralded victory.
First transgender woman world champion…ever.*
UCI Masters Track Cycling Women 35-44 Sprint@outsports @TheAdvocateMag @CofC @PinkNews @TheChrisMosier @BicyclingMag @velonews @gcntweet @glaad @TransMediaWatch @TransEquality @TransgenderNews @equalitynetwork pic.twitter.com/SD0HuS1Crv
— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) October 14, 2018
McKinnon, who calls herself “an internationally recognized expert on the science and ethics of transgender inclusion in sport,” told USA Today that American society should not “have a woman legally recognized as a trans woman in society, and not be recognized that way in sports.”
“Focusing on performance advantage is largely irrelevant because this is a rights issue. We shouldn’t be worried about trans people taking over the Olympics,” she added. “We should be worried about their fairness and human rights instead. This is bigger than sports, and it’s about human rights.”
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I broke the 200m WORLD RECORD this morning. It was my first indoor 200m and I have to admit that my 11.92 was significantly slower than I was doing outdoors in the summer. I still need time to get comfortable and save maximum energy in the windup. Unfortunately my record lasted 10min before I was beaten by 0.031s. I'm still super happy though. I'm safely through to the semi finals tomorrow afternoon. #rainbowfoxracing #rainbowfox #herthighness #quaddess #quadzilla #thefutureisfoxy #wtfsracebikes #sprinter #trackcycling #sportisahumanright #inclusivesport #lgbtq #lgbtqsport #transathlete #transrightsnow #transinclusivesport #girlslikeus #vegan #socialchange #socialjustice #transvisibilty #olympichopeful #plantbasedathlete #inspiration * * * °@fujibikes Bike °@fsa_road Chainrings, stem °@vision_tech_usa Crankset, chainrings, wheels °@lazersportusa Helmet, sunglasses °@vie13_kustom_apparel Speedsuit * Coaches: @empiricalcycling and @nathanrogut° ° @Regran_ed from @erosportspa – We had the incredible privilege of working with @rachelvmckinnon this summer, who set a World Record this morning for the women’s 35-39 flying 200m. It was broken again a few heats later, but the moment was sweet while it lasted! Congratulations, Rachel! #areyouero #worldrecord #erosportsbikefit #erosportspa #erosportspennsylvania #worldchampionships @outforthewin @outsportsinspire
The transgender woman went further, comparing the crisis of categorizing those of various different gender identities to when those in power were figuring out how to resolve racial segregation.
“By catering to cisgender people’s views, that furthers transgender people’s oppression,” McKinnon noted. “When it comes to extending rights to a minority population, why would we ask the majority? I bet a lot of white people were pissed off when we desegregated sports racially and allowed black people. But they had to deal with it.”
But many disagreed with McKinnon, arguing that her biological make-up puts her in a superior position going into the competition.
“Unfair advantage and not to be celebrated,” one Twitter user wrote. “Look at the difference in size and muscle mass. Of course you were going to win.”
“It’s time for ALL sports to define gender categories as biological birth gender,” another person added.