Trans Women Are Women.
… The end. DUH.
If only it were that simple, right? But apparently, as I recently discovered in a women’s MTB forum and again after the Zwift team nonsense, it isn’t. There are still women and organizations in cycling who clearly think that trans women competing in elite fields is not only up for debate but that it’s something they have a right to ‘discuss’ and have an ‘opinion’ about.
Let me be clear, ladies: you don’t.
Our trans sisters’ existences, bodies, rights and ability to participate in sport is not fodder for conversation. It isn’t a topic we’re allowed to have an opinion about because a person’s humanity isn’t debatable. Not only are trans athletes’ lives and bodies not up for debate, neither is their participation in a sport, regardless of your need for ‘discussion’.
The IOC has ruled on this. The UCI has ruled on this and continues to review and change policy. Science has ruled on this. And because it’s evident that someone has to step up, now I’m ruling on this: Trans women are women. End of story.
Cisgender women don’t get to have an opinion on trans women racing and competing. Why? Because trans women are women. They are women who compete, who ride, who race, who throw down and who I will also fight to protect and stand next to until I take my last motherfucking breath. If you have a problem with that, come find me and we’ll talk about how your bigotry and hatred are blinding you to the science and fact that support my evidence-based efforts to diversify cycling.
I could make some commercial, capitalist-driven argument here about the value of expanding markets and the economic logic of inclusiveness and diversity (as I have before), but I won’t, because people aren’t economic fodder. Human lives aren’t capitalist collateral who only have value if they’re portrayed as potential consumers. Trans women, women, WTFs, people of color, and anyone else who wants to ride shouldn’t be welcomed into cycling because cycling is a sport going broke due to its sightlessness; we should be welcoming everyone into the bike world because riding bikes is magical and transformative and incredible.
So let me say this as a professional mountain biker, national podium-stander, and insanely competitive, capable and angry racer — you don’t get to discuss whether or not someone else is deserving of a place in cycling. You don’t get to ‘not like’ trans athletes who have been cleared by the UCI and IOC to compete. You don’t even get to speculate on whether they’re compliant, because none of this is about you. You don’t get to act as gatekeeper and exclusionary agent for cycling because you think you’re an expert on gender, hormones or competitive ‘worthiness’. You’re not, and as a cis-gender racer, I’m more than happy to carry the burden of your ignorance and shut that shit down harder and faster than you can say “she’s mean”.
Why? Here’s why: because despite being pretty mediocre, I’m not nearly mediocre enough to feel threatened by another athlete who is already bearing the weight of so much stigma just for being themselves. I’m also smart enough to have done my research, read all of the decisions on trans athletes in sport, read enough studies to rot my brain and talked to trans women in order to both understand the topic better and advocate for my sisters’ place in sport properly. I don’t feel threatened by trans women because they aren’t a threat and never have been — not in sport, not in a goddamn bathroom, not anywhere. If you go into every race, every interaction, every situation feeling threatened, life is gonna get real small, real fast. If you feel that your best isn’t enough, trans athletes being barred from sport won’t fix that for you. If you feel that your worth or ability to perform is threatened by the presence and inclusion of ALL women, no decision is going to make that better — racing isn’t about winning. Racing bikes isn’t about crossing that finish line or the trophies or the accolades or the ‘reputation’ you gain for being fast.
Racing bikes is about personal growth, progression of self, evolution, education, adaptation, confidence and the magic that bikes bring to each of us as ourselves as valuable humans. If you can’t see that, you need to stop talking and go ride your bike more.
We’re all in this together.