Rachel McKinnon, a biological male who identifies as a woman, won the woman’s cycling world championship on Saturday, setting what some consider to be a new women’s world record for the event. He responded to criticism that it is unfair to allow biological men to compete with women, claiming that any opposition would violate his “human rights.” After a female former Masters champion criticized him, he suggested that she and other critics are losers and bigots, not “real champions.”
“All my medical records say female,” McKinnon, who teaches philosophy at the College of Charleston in Canada, told Sky News after his victory. “My doctor treats me as a female person, my racing licence [sic] says female, but people who oppose my existence still want to think of me as male.”
The cyclist went on to denounce basic biology as a debunked “stereotype.”
“There’s a stereotype that men are always stronger than women, so people think there is an unfair advantage. By preventing trans women from competing or requiring them to take medication, you’re denying their human rights,” McKinnon said.
The cyclist purposefully clouded the issue by accusing his critics of saying that “men are always stronger than women.” Opponents of allowing men to compete in women’s sports do not claim that “men are always stronger than women.” Instead, we claim — based on biology — that males have unique advantages over females as a whole, so it is unfair for McKinnon to compete against biological women.
Male advantages in sports are by no means a baseless stereotype. A recent study in the Journal of Medical Ethics found that males who identify as women in women’s sports enjoy a distinct advantage that creates an “intolerable unfairness.”
“The recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) (2015) guidelines allow transwomen to compete in the women’s division if (amongst other things) their testosterone is held below 10 nmol/L. This is significantly higher than that of cis-women,” the researchers conclude. “Science demonstrates that high testosterone and other male physiology provides a performance advantage in sport suggesting that transwomen retain some of that advantage.”
Indeed, the differences in male and female development begin in the womb, long before birth — when transgender activists claim people are “marked” male or female. Testosterone works in a male baby as soon as 8 weeks after conception, forming the primary sex characteristics that give males distinct advantages in sports. Among these differences is neuromuscular efficiency, the ability to quickly recruit muscle into contraction.
Biological differences between men and women are undeniable, but these differences do not make one sex morally superior or inferior. Each individual has equal human dignity, regardless of sports performance. In fact, this is why it is so important for women’s sports to exclude men: women are entirely equal to men in dignity, and they deserve to compete in fair conditions so that little girls can look up to the achievements of female athletes without fearing that these world records are a lie because the “woman” who set them enjoyed the biological advantages of testosterone, from long before his birth.
Victoria Hood, a former women’s Masters cycling champion, spoke out against McKinnon competing. “It is not complicated, the science is there and it says that it is unfair,” Hood told Sky News. “The male body, which has been through male puberty, still retains its advantage, that doesn’t go away.”
Hood expressed “sympathy” for transgender people. “They have a right to do sport but not a right to go into any category they want.”
McKinnon responded to this criticism by calling Hood a “loser.”
“I have yet to meet a real champion who has a problem with trans women. Real champions want stronger competition. If you win because bigotry got your competition banned… you’re a loser,” the cyclist tweeted.
Earlier this year, McKinnon complained about “toxic masculinity.” Many found this particularly rich.
“‘Rachel’ McKinnon is a man who has transjacked women’s cycling competitions without regard for how deeply uncomfortable real women are with his behavior or presence,” Kaeley Triller Harms, co-founder of Hands Across the Aisle Women’s Coalition, posted on Facebook.
Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, the founder of the global women’s rights group Standing For Women, would not say McKinnon was himself an example of toxic masculinity. She attacked “toxic masculinity” as an “absurd term.” Yet she did not spare McKinnon from criticism. “I would just say that McKinnon is a vile entitled nasty man,” she said.
Many feminists have grown more outspoken against the trend of biological men competing in women’s sports. Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies has warned that many female athletes keep silent about the injustice for fear of retribution — getting kicked off of teams. She also condemned the victory of biological male Mary Gregory in women’s weightlifting.
Duke Law School professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman testified against the pro-transgender Equality Act for this reason. If biological men compete in women’s sports, “the very best women in the world would lose to literally thousands of boys and men, including thousands who would be considered second-tier.”
Coleman, who won a Track & Field scholarship to Villanova in 1978, warned that young girls everywhere risk losing the “extraordinary value” of female athletic role models if biological males dominate women’s sports. While support for transgender identity has increased, a recent Rasmussen poll found that only 28 percent of American adults support “allowing transgender students to participate on the sports team of the gender they identify with, letting biological males, for example, play girls’ sports.”
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I’ll just let this photo to stand for itself. Two new friends, and a serious supporter of my racing, sharing the joy of achieving hard-won goals. Can’t wait to see Kirsten next year. …and then another who is somewhat less enthused to lose a race against me…off to the side. It’s traditional for everyone on the podium to put.theirmarms around.each other’s backs. It’s a group photo. When one athlete purposefully put that hand behind her own back communicates something that matters. It’s bad sportsmanship. I have a LOT more.to say about this long mess of a week and how much transphobia was just EVERYWHERE. #rainbowfoxracing #rainbowfox #worldchampion #herthighness #quaddess #quadzilla #quadgoals #wtfsracebikes #trackcycling #cycling #racing #sportisahumanright #inclusivesport #lgbtq #lgbtqsport #transathlete #transrightsnow #transinclusivesport #girlslikeus #socialchange #socialjustice #transvisibilty #gofastturnleft #transgender #inspiration * * * °@fujibikes Bike °@fsa_road Chainrings, stem °@vision_tech_usa Crankset, chainrings, wheels °@lazersportusa Helmet, sunglasses °@vie13_kustom_apparel Speedsuit * Coach: @empiricalcycling Nutritionist: @paulsaltercoaching Pro Ambassador for @athleteally
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.