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Canadian becomes first transgender woman to win a female world title on the track

Rachel McKinnon won the masters 35-39 sprint at the world championships in Los Angeles

Rachel McKinnon

Rachel McKinnon representing Canada won the world title in the master 35-39 women’s sprint at the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles on Sunday. McKinnon was born a biological male and now identifies as a transgender female. McKinnon celebrated the victory on Twitter writing, “First transgender woman world champion…ever.”

McKinnon is a professor and PhD in philosophy focusing on gender studies at College of Charleston in South Carolina. McKinnon beat Carolien Van Herrikhuyzen of the Netherlands and American Jennifer Wagner to win the gold medal.

Before the final, McKinnon set a world record in the quarterfinals riding 11.92 sec over 200 m. Her record didn’t stand for long as it was beaten by 0.031 s 10 minutes later. McKinnon is a dedicated athlete saying she trains 15 to 20 hours a week often training twice a day.

In international competitions, it has been controversial allowing biological males who identify as transgender women to compete in women’s events. The International Olympic Committee rules that naturally occurring testosterone in transgender women given them an unfair advantage against women who were born female. In a piece in USA Today in January, McKinnon argued that suppressing testosterone in biological males who identify as trans women is a violation of their human rights.

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I broke the 200m WORLD RECORD this morning. It was my first indoor 200m and I have to admit that my 11.92 was significantly slower than I was doing outdoors in the summer. I still need time to get comfortable and save maximum energy in the windup. Unfortunately my record lasted 10min before I was beaten by 0.031s. I'm still super happy though. I'm safely through to the semi finals tomorrow afternoon. #rainbowfoxracing #rainbowfox #herthighness #quaddess #quadzilla #thefutureisfoxy #wtfsracebikes #sprinter #trackcycling #sportisahumanright #inclusivesport #lgbtq #lgbtqsport #transathlete #transrightsnow #transinclusivesport #girlslikeus #vegan #socialchange #socialjustice #transvisibilty #olympichopeful #plantbasedathlete #inspiration * * * °@fujibikes Bike °@fsa_road Chainrings, stem °@vision_tech_usa Crankset, chainrings, wheels °@lazersportusa Helmet, sunglasses °@vie13_kustom_apparel Speedsuit * Coaches: @empiricalcycling and @nathanrogut° ° @Regran_ed from @erosportspa – We had the incredible privilege of working with @rachelvmckinnon this summer, who set a World Record this morning for the women’s 35-39 flying 200m. It was broken again a few heats later, but the moment was sweet while it lasted! Congratulations, Rachel! #areyouero #worldrecord #erosportsbikefit #erosportspa #erosportspennsylvania #worldchampionships @outforthewin @outsportsinspire

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“We cannot have a woman legally recognized as a trans woman in society, and not be recognized that way in sports,” McKinnon explained. “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.”

McKinnon continued by explaining that it’s not possible to measure the unfair advantage transgender women have so that should be irrelevant to the conversation on whether they are allowed to compete.

“This is bigger than sports and it’s about human rights,” McKinnon said in USA Today. “By catering to cisgender people’s views, that furthers transgender people’s oppression. When it comes to extending rights to a minority population, why would we ask the majority? I bet a lot of white people were pissed off when we desegregated sports racially and allowed black people. But they had to deal with it.”

The UCI reviewed it’s policy on transgender athletes last year when Canadian cyclist Kristen Worley won a case brought under human rights laws. Cycling Canada, the Ontario Cycling Association and the UCI all agreed to change their policies towards transgender female athletes.