Debate Sparks Over Cyclist Victories
Two transgender women made headlines over the weekend by dominating the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships. Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson, both of whom were born male, took home the gold and silver medals in the women's singlespeed category. This is not the first time the pair has outperformed biological females in the sport, as they have also won numerous other races against women in the past.
The victory of Johnson and Williamson has sparked controversy and criticism from both the sports community and political commentators. Former tennis star Martina Navratilova, a vocal advocate for female athletes' rights, expressed her disdain for the situation on Twitter, stating that it was "more mediocre male bodies taking podium places from female athletes." Journalist Piers Morgan also chimed in, calling the situation "outrageous" and questioning the lack of action from female athletes.
Transgender cyclists finished 1 and 2 in Illinois Illinois State Cyclocross Championship this weekend. Tessa Johnson, 25, and Evelyn Williamson, 30 were the 1st and 2nd place winners.
Biological women have no chance against these dudes; it's a total disgrace and travesty of… pic.twitter.com/57ACUorX2r
— Jericho (@JerichoXVI) December 6, 2023
Riley Gaines, a former All-American swimmer and advocate for keeping transgender women out of women's sports, offered to compensate female cyclists who boycotted USA Cycling competitions in protest of the situation. She urged female athletes to stand up against "this assault on their rights" and to stop participating in what she calls "a farce."
This is not the first time transgender athletes competing against and winning against biological females has caused controversy in sports. Just last month, a female pool player in the UK forfeited her final match in protest of being drawn to compete against a transgender woman. This incident, along with the recent victory of Johnson and Williamson, highlights the ongoing debate and concerns around transgender athletes participating in women's sports.
WATCH:@Riley_Gaines_ joins @SandraSmithFox as she prepares to testify to Congress on the Biden Administration's proposed changes to Title IX, and reacts to the latest headlines on transgender cyclists winning a female cycling race in Illinois. #AmericaReports pic.twitter.com/wDKO3ip1KH
— America Reports (@AmericaRpts) December 5, 2023
In response to the backlash, Chicago CrossCup, the organization that organized the cycle races, defended its decision to allow transgender athletes to participate, citing that they follow USA Cycling's Transgender Athlete Participation policies. They also included a statement on their website emphasizing their zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination or harassment based on factors such as gender or sexual orientation.
However, despite the outcry from critics, it is important to note that the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for cycling, updated its policy in July to ban transgender athletes from competing in elite competitions. This decision was met with mixed reactions, with some applauding the move as a way to ensure fair competition while others viewed it as discriminatory.