Debate ragged throughout the cycling committee after Canadian transgender athlete Rachel McKinnon earned a masters world championships title at the UCI World Track Championships in Los Angeles. McKinnon became the first transgender athlete to win a world championship title winning the masters 35-39 sprint.
The participation of transgender athletes, especially of those born biologically male, has caused a lot of discussion in recent years. In 2017, the UCI reviewed its policy on transgender athletes after 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.
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In response to McKinnon’s world title, the UCI announced that it is waiting for an International Olympic Committee document that will be released shortly before reviewing its guidelines towards the participation of transgender M-W athletes.
“This document should enable us to take into consideration, in line with the evolution of our society, the desire of these people to compete while at the same time guarantee as far as possible an equal chance for all participants in women’s competitions,” the UCI said in a statement.
According to the UCI, it will adapt its regulations according to the guidelines set out by the IOC in the fourth coming document.
McKinnon is a professor and PhD in philosophy focusing on gender studies at College of Charleston in South Carolina. She argues that allowing transgender athletes to compete is a human rights issue.
“We cannot have a woman legally recognized as a trans woman in society, and not be recognized that way in sports,” McKinnon explained to USA Today before her win. “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.”