by Lil Tuttle
Some things are just plain wrong. This is one of them.
Born a biological male, transgender professor Rachel McKinnon of South Carolina’s College of Charleston took first place this week in the Women’s 35-44 Sprint cycling final at the UCI Masters track championships. The award irked many, including English media commentator Katie Hopkins:
For clarity – this was the WOMENS world championships.
I repeat. Women’s.
Congratulations to the brave faces of silver & bronze. The world is gripped by a febrile madness. pic.twitter.com/P6VkaNFeyy
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) October 14, 2018
According to CyclingTips.com, “Sprint events require short explosive efforts, and are often very tactical, requiring a heavy focus on positioning. They tend to be contested by larger, muscular riders.” Since males are generally more muscular than females, one would expect a transwoman to have an inherent unfair advantage over a biological woman.
McKinnon vehemently denies any advantage. Asked by Velonews.com, “Do you have an unfair advantage because you are a transgender athlete?” McKinnon repied:
No, absolutely not … I think there is absolutely no evidence that I have an unfair advantage.
Yet cycling competition times suggest otherwise. Women tend to naturally perform about a second slower than their male counterparts in this particular event, as evidenced by the most recent World Sprint records set in Aguascalientes Mexico in 2013:
Men’s world record: 9.347 by Francois Pervis
Women’s world record: 10.384 by Kristina Vogel
Had McKinnon competed with men, she wouldn’t have made the podium in the UCI games. McKinnon posted a Sprint time of 12.554 seconds (a speed of 57.352km/h) to beat out women competitors. Yet McKinnon’s speed was a full 1.3 seconds slower than Men’s Gold Medal winner Arnaud Duble (Sprint time of 11.227 seconds), and almost a full second slower than Men’s Bronze Medal winner Jack Lindquist (11.529 seconds).
The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has evolved on gender testing over the years, according to an article by USA Today. The article that interviewed several transgender women, including McKinnon and Jillian Bearden, who “has been a scientific test subject for the IOC by providing before-and-after performance data that she says proves the power of testosterone.”
The IOC has long struggled with issues of gender. It instituted gender testing decades ago when men, in rare cases, were suspected of competing as women. At first the testing was of the crude, pull-down-your-pants variety. Later that morphed into chromosomal testing with a cheek swab. And in 1999, the IOC ended compulsory gender testing.
But guidelines adopted in 2004 effectively said trans women had to undergo sex reassignment surgery. New guidelines in 2015 threw out the surgery requirement but said trans women needed to test below a specified level of testosterone for more than one year before they could compete, down from two years.
Bearden thinks the new guidelines make sense. McKinnon thinks they are manifestly discriminatory.
“Focusing on performance advantages is largely irrelevant because this is a rights issue,” McKinnon argued. “We should be worried about trans people taking over the Olympics. We should be worried about their fairness and human rights instead.”
“I’ve proven how powerful testosterone is from when I competed” as a male, Bearden says. “That doesn’t mean specifically that the more testosterone you have the stronger you are, but the hormone provides a certain stamina that continues to charge you. It gives you that edge of pushing power.”
An “edge of pushing power” that forced a biological woman off the Gold Medal podium at the UCI 2018 Masters Track Cycling World Championships.
That’s just wrong.