A Canadian transgender athlete has been slammed by a competitor after becoming the first to win a cycling world championship.
Dr Rachel McKinnon, who was born a male, won gold in the women’s 35-44 age bracket at the UCI Masters track championships in Los Angeles on Sunday.
“First transgender woman world champion…ever*”, she posted on social media alongside a photo on the podium with second- and third-place finishers, Carolien Van Herrikhuyzen of the Netherlands and Jennifer Wagner of the US.
McKinnon’s achievement was lauded by some on social media, given the fact she has to suppress her testosterone levels to what she deems “unhealthily low” levels.
But third-place finisher Wagner led the criticism against McKinnon’s participation in the championships.
“I was the 3rd place rider. It’s definitely NOT fair,” Wagner tweeted in response to controversial commentator Katie Hopkins.
Hopkins took a huge swipe at the ‘febrile madness’ that allowed McKinnon to compete.
Others on social media accused McKinnon of cheating, claiming her competing is unfair to cisgender women.
McKinnon has since hit out at the criticism, telling velonews.com she enjoyed no physical advantage over her competitors.
“I think there is absolutely no evidence that I have an unfair advantage,” she said.
“People who oppose transgender inclusion in sport put us in the double bind. It’s the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario.
“If I win, they attribute it to me being trans and having an unfair advantage. If I lose, the same people think I must not be good anyway. People will never attribute my winning to hard work which is what I think I deserve.”
McKinnon, an assistant professor at the College of Charleston Department of Philosophy who studies transgender issues, posted a lecture she presented entitled, “Including Trans Women Athletes in Sport”, in rebuttal to those citing the ethics and fairness of her being allowed to compete.
In an article in USA Today in January, she argued her competing is not a question of athletic advantage, but one of human rights.
“We cannot have a woman legally recognised as a trans woman in society, and not be recognised that way in sports,” McKinnon was quoted as saying.
“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. We should be worried about their fairness and human rights instead.”