Transgender Canadian rider wins important Ontario human rights case

Her victory comes via a ruling from Ontario's human rights tribunal, determining her case as having a "reasonable prospect of success"

August 4th, 2016 by | Posted in News |

For Canadian cyclist Kristen Worley, a transgender athlete who transitioned from man to woman, the regulatory actions of world sports bodies like the Union Cycliste Internationale amount to discrimination, she says.

Worley, the National Post reports, recently won a key human rights battle in her case—one that may set precedents.

Global regulatory bodies, Worley said, establish a discriminatory system that fails to account for people in her position, using “humiliating” sex-verification examinations and anti-doping rules that keep transitioned competitors from receiving sufficient synthetic hormones. Testosterone, particularly, is banned as a performance-enhancing substance. But to the Toronto-based athlete, the use of such hormones, in the absence of anything produced naturally by the human body, is necessary.

Her victory comes via a ruling from Ontario’s human rights tribunal, determining her case as having a “reasonable prospect of success.”

While legal representation from the UCI, the Ontario Cycling Association, and the Cycling Canada could not be reached for comment, the National Post nonetheless quoted members of the ruling tribunal in citing the matter’s sensitivity on both sides. Jo-Anne Pickel, for one, suggested that organizations such as the UCI raised “important issues,” including the existence of anti-doping measures that restrict the use of testosterone for the sake of athletes. Those concerns were countered by Worley, however, for whom the biological concerns of transitioning mean changes in basic levels of performance.

“Over the years,” Worley told the Post, citing the lack of testosterone and other androgens resulting from her transition, “I have felt my body become unwell and unable to function as it once did. As an athlete, I saw my performance deteriorate.”

The matter continues in a legal forum, centred around questions of whether or not sex-verification and anti-doping measures amount to discrimination.