'Why Bother if It's Not Fair?' Backlash After Trans Cyclist Beats All Women in Prestigious Race
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A transgender cyclist who won the women's division of the prestigious Tour of the Gila race on Sunday in New Mexico by nearly a minute-and-a-half is being called "cycling's equivalent of Lia Thomas."
As CBN News reported, Thomas is the transgender swimmer who had failed to win as a collegiate male swimmer, but then switched to female competitions and won an NCAA Division 1 women's national championship.
Cyclist Austin Killips was applauded in a tweet by The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – the regulatory organization of the sport – for winning the race.
"Austin Killips @AmyD_Foundation put an exclamation point on her overall race lead Sunday by winning Stage 5 Gila Monster and taking home the overall victory at Tour of the Gila," the group wrote while limiting users' responses.
One user called out the cycling organization, writing: "Hey @TouroftheGila, The very fact you prevented any replies to what surely should be a popular tweet shows us that you know what you are doing is wrong. We see you. So does your conscience."
Killips's victory has brought into question UCI's policy of permitting athletes with male DNA to compete against females. In March 2022, the body passed new rules requiring that males suppress their testosterone below a prescribed level before being allowed to enter the women's category, according to The National Review.
UCI chose not to join World Athletics in preserving male and female categories in races.
"Austin is cycling's equivalent of Lia Thomas," Inga Thompson, an American Olympian and national road race champion, told The Telegraph on Monday.
"We have more than 50 transgender women in the sport. And what's going on in the background is that women are just quietly walking away. They think, 'Why bother if it's not fair?'" Thompson added.
Alison Sydor, a former elite cross-country cyclist, and Canadian Olympic silver medalist, also took to Twitter to criticize UCI's policy, arguing allowing transgenders to race is no different that doping.
"Going from the Male->Female category (gender doping) in cycling sport I'd argue is no different functionally than doping. What also isn't right about this situation @UCI_cycling mandates is the difference in the anti doping rules & policies Trans Women v Female athletes have to abide by…"
Sydor also included photos showing Killips standing on the winner's stand after Sunday's New Mexico race.
Going from the Male->Female category (gender doping) in cycling sport I'd argue is no different functionally than doping. What also isn't right about this situation @UCI_cycling mandates is the difference in the anti doping rules & policies TW v Female athletes have to abide by… https://t.co/Po2hYMiNe7— Alison Sydor #1105 (@AlisonSydor) May 1, 2023
"The current UCI rules that allow males to compete in female cycling events are NOT fair to female athletes. The UCI wants to hear from anyone concerned about matters affecting the integrity of the sport," Sydor wrote in a tweet on Friday.
Hannah Arensman, a 35-time winner on the cyclocross circuit, finished fourth in the USA's National Cyclocross Championships in December. Ahead of her in third place was Killips — and right behind her in fifth was Jenna Lingwood, another transgender cyclist, according to The Washington Times.
"It's been very disheartening to finish this way," she told the outlet. "If this does not change, if the rules are not changed to make women's sports for women, there's not going to be women's sports for the next generation. The records are all going to go to male riders."
Arensman retired from the sport at the age of 24, citing the emergence of transgender cyclists.
In its report, The Times noted there's at least one key difference between Killips and Thomas. Thomas was the only male-to-female transgender athlete in the pool during the 2022 NCAA championship run. Killips has plenty of company.
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