In a stunning display of athleticism, Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson, both transgender women, claimed the top two spots in the women’s singlespeed category at the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships. This victory marks yet another instance where they have surpassed their female competitors.
The news of their triumph has ignited fierce debate among advocates for women in sports and political commentators. Many argue that allowing transgender women to compete against biological women creates an unfair advantage due to inherent physiological differences.
Kristin Chalmers, a biological woman, was pushed to third place as Johnson and Williamson proudly stood on the podium. Johnson also emerged victorious in the women’s category 1/2 race, earning a well-deserved prize of $150.
This victory is not the first time Johnson and Williamson have made headlines for dominance in women’s cycling. Since 2017, Williamson has amassed an impressive collection of 18 first-place titles in races across the country, according to Reduxx, a women’s rights news site. Furthermore, the pair clinched gold and silver in the prestigious Chicago Cyclocross Cup series, leaving a biological female competitor in third place.
The controversy surrounding transgender women in women’s sports is not limited to cycling. Tennis icon Martina Navratilova, a vocal critic of transgender participation in women’s sports, expressed her frustration on social media, decrying that mediocre male bodies replacing females on victory podiums is unfair. Journalist Piers Morgan echoed Navratilova’s sentiments, questioning why more women are not speaking out against what he sees as an assault on their rights.
Riley Gaines, a former All-American swimmer and advocate for gender-specific sports, has offered to compensate female cyclists who boycott USA Cycling competitions financially. Gaines believes that biological men competing against women undermines the integrity of women’s sports and urges women to take a stand against this perceived injustice.
The issue of transgender inclusion in women’s sports extends beyond cycling. Just recently, a female pool player in the U.K. forfeited her final match because she was paired against a transgender woman.
In response to the controversy, Chicago CrossCup, organizing Sunday’s race, emphasizes its commitment to inclusivity and adherence to USA Cycling’s Transgender Athlete Participation policies. The organization’s website explicitly states its zero-tolerance policy towards harassment or discrimination based on various factors, including gender identity.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the global governing body for sports cycling, revised its policy in July, prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in elite competitions. This decision reflects the ongoing discussions surrounding transgender inclusion and the challenges of creating a level playing field for all athletes.