Rachel McKinnon has entered the history books as the first transgender woman to win a cycling world title.
McKinnon, who races both on the track and the road, won the women’s 35-44 sprint during the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Dr Rachel McKinnon was born a biological male but identifies as a trans woman and is a campaigner for trans rights.
Many have congratulated the Canadian, who is also an assistant professor of philosophy, on her win but the victory has also prompted negative response from some.
The third place finisher in the sprint, Jennifer Wagner, took to Twitter to call the result “not fair.”
McKinnon posted on Twitter after the win: “This is what the double bind for trans women looks like: 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.”
Replying to a tweet by Katie Hopkins, runner up Jennifer Wagner said: “I was the third place rider.
“It’s definitely not fair.”
McKinnon added that Wagner had beaten her in 10 of their last 12 races, including the 500-metre time trial earlier in the week.
Transgender athletes have been allowed to compete in the Olympics since 2004 but under the requirement they had undergone gender confirmation surgery and been on hormone therapy for two years.
In 2015, these rules were relaxed to remove the need for surgery and the athletes must have a testosterone level below a certain limit for at least 12 months prior to their first competition.
Athletes who transition from female to male are allowed to enter in male competition without restriction.
But transgender athletes are due to face tighter restrictions by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as the maximum level of testosterone allowed will be halved.
A study by Loughbough University academics was carried out after the Rio 2016 Olympics after concerns about transgender athletes having an advantage.
After reviewing 31 national and international transgender sporting policies, including those of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Football Association and the Lawn Tennis Association, the study concluded that a majority unfairly discriminated against transgender people, especially trans women.
The researchers said that there is no evidence that transgender women have a sporting advantage over athletes born female.
PhD student Beth Jones, who was involved in the study, said: “Our research has also shown that these stringent and unfair policies have a negative impact on transgender people’s experiences of sport and physical activity, even when the activity is engaged in at a recreational level, such as considering joining a local football team or going to the gym.”
The researchers suggested that if size or strength of competitors is a concern, different sporting categories not based on gender should be considered.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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