Male Identifying as Female Faces Backlash After Winning Gold in Cycling

Male Identifying as Female Faces Backlash After Winning Gold in Cycling

A transgender woman who won gold in the 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships has faced a fierce backlash including death threats since her victory a month ago.

Rachel McKinnon from Victoria, British Columbia, became the first transgender woman to win a world champion title.

She told CTV News she wasn’t able to celebrate her win immediately because of the attention surrounding her gender identity.

“It’s hard to get death threats and not read that as hurtful. It's hard to read tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of comments of being a woman and someone calling you a man,” McKinnon said.

Jen Wagner-Assali, who finished third in the race, called the results “definitely not fair” on Twitter.

When McKinnon saw the tweet, she looked at her race history and found she had competed against Wagner-Assali a number of times and had lost in most of their encounters.

Three days later, Wagner-Assali tweeted that she respected McKinnon’s right to “compete within the rules,” but she was fighting to change those rules.

Trans athletes have been able to compete in Olympic-eligible sports since 2003.

McKinnon said she recognizes people are worried that transgender people may disrupt women’s sports, but she said there hasn’t been a transgender person who’s won an Olympic medal since the rules were changed.

“This panic that trans athletes have this advantage just isn’t borne out in any evidence that we have,” she explained.

McKinnon also meets all the Union Cyclist International criteria to race against other women.

"Rachel seems to have competed within those rules and she won so she should be recognized for her sporting accomplishment,” explained Paul Melia with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Ben Miljure

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