A woman who lost a cycling race to a biological male who identifies as a female has said the end result was wildly unfair. Cyclist Jennifer Wagner said it was “definitely NOT fair” that she had to compete against Professor Rachel McKinnon at the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships held in Los Angeles.
Wagner, a doctor from Houston, achieved third place behind McKinnon and Dutch cyclist Carolien van Herrikhuyzen.
“I was the 3rd place rider. It’s definitely NOT fair,” she wrote on Twitter following the controversial finish.
Van Herrikhuyzen, however, called it an “honest race.”
“No one is a transgender to steal anyone’s medal. We had an honest race under [Union Cycliste Internationale] rules. If you compete you accept the rules, otherwise, don’t compete,” she wrote on Twitter. “I can only imagine what she had to go through in her life to be where she is now, how hard it is to fit in.”
But Wagner snapped back, pointing out that “just because it’s a CURRENT UCI rule doesn’t make it fair or right.”
“Rules can be changed,” she added.
Many have taken to social media to express their frustration at an athletic competition that allows biological males to compete against women.
“Just wanted to say that the whole world knows you won that race as a woman, it is a complete travesty that a man stole your victory, your podium and your medal,” one Twitter user replied to Wagner.
“I’m wondering how someone can compete in sport with higher testosterone levels than the rest of their competition, by a long shot,” another added. “That’s why US Anti Doping exists in sport, to keep everyone honest and the playing field level.”
McKinnon, who calls herself “an internationally recognized expert on the science and ethics of transgender inclusion in sport,” responded to Wagner on Twitter, writing that at Masters Worlds, Wagner defeated her fair and square.
“She beat me in 6 of 7 races at the 2017 Intelligentsia Cup,” McKinnon added. “In 2016 she beat me in all 3 Speed Week crits. She’s won 11 of our 13 races …and it’s unfair? Excuse me?”
The transgender athlete said that Wagner’s grievance “is what the double-bind for trans women athletes looks like.”
She added, “when we win, it’s because we’re transgender and it’s unfair; when we lose, no one notices (and it’s because we’re just not that good anyway). Even when it’s the SAME racer. That’s what transphobia looks like.”
Previously, McKinnon 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.”
You know what gives me hope and strength?
— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) October 17, 2018
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.”
In 2017, the UCI was forced to “review and revise” its policies to accommodate transgender athletes after Canadian cyclist Kristen Worley, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2001, claimed her human rights had been violated by the governing authority. The reason for the complaint was because UCI strictly governs the amount of testosterone each athlete has in their system, which meant Kristen was permitted a dosage which below the amount she required as a transgender individual.
Following an Ontario tribunal ruling in favor of Worley, Cycling Canada, the Ontario Cycling Association and the UCI all vowed to review their policies. According to an interview given by McKinnon to Velo News, the UCI rules still require transgender women “to demonstrate a continued level of endogenous testosterone below a certain level for one year, that level is 10 nanomoles per liter.”
“I clearly meet the ICO/USAC/UCI policies,” McKinnon said.