Rachel McKinnon is dominating the women’s cycling field, yet is receiving backlash from her fellow competitors.
This 37-year old Canadian woman won at the Masters Track World Cycling Championships in Manchester, England in the 35-39 age category 200-meter sprint. McKinnon is celebrating breaking a world record and her second consecutive world title.
Her success was met with criticism from former champion Victoria Hood. Hood claimed that “the science is there and it says that it is unfair. The male body, which has been through male puberty, still retains its advantage; that doesn’t go away. I have sympathy with them. They have the right to do sport but not a right to go into any category they want.” McKinnon responded that Hood has an “irrational fear of transgender women. An irrational fear of trans women is the dictionary definition of transphobia. Transphobia has no place in sport.” She said, “By preventing trans women from competing or requiring them to take medication, you’re denying their human rights.”
McKinnon responded to the controversy with a press release on Twitter. She stated, “All my medical records say female, my doctor treats me as a female person, my racing license says female, but people who oppose my existence still want to think of me as male … So, if we want to say that I believe you’re a woman for all of society, except for this massive central part that is sport, then that’s not fair.”
Hood is not the first cyclist to speak out against McKinnon. Jennifer Wagner-Assali, who previously competed against McKinnon and received bronze, said, “It was an unfair race, and I accepted that when I pinned on the number, and I tried to do my best to overcome the unfairness. I do feel that hard-fought freedoms for women’s sports are being eroded.”
There have been changes in the world of sports regarding transgender people. Since 2004, the International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes to compete if they have had gender confirmation surgery and have received hormone therapy for at least 2 years. In 2015, the requirement for surgery was removed but athletes are being evaluated based on their testosterone levels. New guidelines were scheduled to be released for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, however the International Olympic Committee was unable to agree on new rules.
McKinnon has admitted that the controversy has affected her. McKinnon admitted that she “thought about giving up about half a dozen times a year at least.” Nevertheless, McKinnon has remained strong in her cycling pursuits. She said, “There were many more barriers this year. A much bigger spotlight, truly incessant hate and people doing everything in their power to have me banned, make me fail, and make me quit. But I didn’t. And I won’t.”
Sources: Fox News 10/21/19, Bicycling 10/24/19, The Blaze 10/21/19