Rachel McKinnon, 36, is an outspoken trans woman. She recently won the UCI Masters Track World Championship. Some of the other competitors were not pleased. Bronze medalist Jen Wagner-Assali took to Twitter to make her views on what is now a growing controversy clear. Is it fair that trans athletes compete in gender-exclusive events?
“I was the 3rd place rider. It’s definitely NOT fair,” Wagner-Assali wrote.
“Trans woman Rachel McKinnon (above-center) won the age 35-44 race in Los Angeles Sunday,” Daily Mail writes. “Silver medalist Carolien van Herrikhuyzen is pictured left and bronze medalist Jen Wagner-Assali is pictured right.”
Wagner-Assali has since apologized for her tweet.
“After having some time to reflect, I realize my twitter comments earlier this week unintentionally fanned the flames on a controversial situation, and that I regret,” she wrote. “I made the comments out of a feeling of frustration, but they weren’t productive or positive.”
“They were just inflammatory, and that’s not who I want to be or am. While I may not agree with the rules, when I pin on a number I agree to race by them. I also respect @rachelvmckinnon ‘s right to compete within the rules.”
That doesn’t mean the argument is being put to rest. “No one is a transgender to steal anyone’s medal,” van Herrikhuyzen, who came in second, wrote. “We had an honest race under UCI rules. If you compete you accept the rules, otherwise, don’t compete. I can only imagine what she had to go through in her life to be where she is now, how hard it is to fit in.”
“Just because it’s a CURRENT UCI rule doesn’t mean it[‘s] fair or right. And rules can be changed,” Wagner-Assali wrote back.
“I’m sure there are men who don’t agree with the USA cycling rule that women can enter their races, which I do all the time. I appreciate those that have reached out to support me, but please stop directing hateful or derogatory comments toward Rachel or trans people in general.”
“At the end of the day, we are all just people trying to find our way in this world. I’m going to continue educating myself and hope this conversation continues in an open and positive way.”
As this an ongoing and contentious argument, Wagner-Assali received both support and condemnation for her position. Some accused her of caving in to the political pressure after she issued her apology.
“For those of you who think I have ‘folded’ I have not. There’s a group of us working on getting the rules changed but we are going to fight it offline, not in the name-calling angry world of social media. I’m choosing to move on in a positive way,” she said.
McKinnon, who won the race, won’t accept any apology from her, either.
“This is why the apology is not accepted: she still thinks what she said. She merely apologizes for being caught saying it publicly. She wants to ban trans women from competing. They will fail: the IOC openly allowed us in 2003 and revised their policies in 2015. #MoveOn.”
“Trans women are women. We must compete as women. We have rights, too,” she wrote.
“White people thought it was UNFAIR for black people to compete in sport. The very same tactics are being used against trans women athletes,” she posted.
The Union Cycliste International finally issued their own statement Friday.
“Although there are no queries concerning Women-Men (W-M) transgender athletes, whose situation – at UCI level as for all International Federations (IF) – is controlled by therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), the current situation concerns M-W transgenders,” they wrote.
Rhys "Rachel" McKinnon celebrates his victory over women 🏆 Congratulation! 🎉
We men are clearly superior to women, we even beat them at women's cycling 🤣 pic.twitter.com/IIfHCSUaNH
— Gender🚁Professecs (@gprofessx) October 14, 2018
“After some 18 months of substantial work, and after consultation with the IFs, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should shortly announce guidelines covering the participation of M-W transgender 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 will adapt its regulations according to the guidelines of the IOC.”