Transgender Cyclists Outperform Female Competitors, Fueling Debate
In a recent Chicago bicycle race, two biological males claimed top positions in what was billed as a women’s event, with the top female finisher coming in third. This event has once again ignited the ongoing debate surrounding transgender athletes’ participation in women’s sports.
Tessa Johnson, 25, emerged as the winner in the Women’s Single Speed and Cat Half categories during the Chicago CycloCross Cup on October 7, with Evelyn Williamson, 30, securing the second place in the Single Speed contest. The only female in the top three of the Single Speed race was Allison Zmuda, who finished in third place.
Williamson, who has been competing against women since 2017, has a track record of 18 wins in such competitions. It’s worth noting that in 2020, Williamson entered a race that included both women and men in the Sky Express Winter Criterium. While she secured the first-place position when racing against women, she did not place when competing against men.
The Chicago race adhered to the rules set by USA Cycling, which state that at non-elite competition levels, a member may self-select their gender.
However, there are critics of this approach, particularly in women’s sports. Former coach Linda Blade voiced her concerns in a post on social media, stating that the race organizers need to stop referring to such events as “women’s events” and instead call them “beta-male races.” She sees it as a situation where some women get to participate, making the sport seem like a joke.
This issue has been at the center of a broader debate on transgender athletes in women’s sports. Critics argue that transgender women, who are biological males, may retain physical advantages that give them an edge in certain sports. Advocates, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of inclusion, equal opportunity, and protection against discrimination for transgender individuals.
The organizers of the Chicago CycloCross Cup have made it clear that they are committed to being inclusive and not discriminating against anyone based on characteristics such as gender identity or sexual orientation. They stress the importance of fostering a positive and supportive community around competitive cycling, welcoming all who want to participate.
As the debate surrounding transgender athletes in women’s sports continues to evolve, the issue raises questions about fairness. Ultimately, it will be up to organizations and governing bodies in sports to establish guidelines and policies that address these concerns.