Donald Trump Jr. has discovered an interest in competitive women’s cycling, now that there’s an opportunity for him to signal disapproval of trans people in the sport.
Trump’s new-found interest comes after Dr. Rachel McKinnon set a world record in the women’s 35-39 sprint category, and won a gold medal at the 2019 Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, England.
McKinnon was assigned male at birth, and trans-exclusionary activists have seized on her victories as evidence of an unfair advantage.
“You can never be woke enough! Sorry to all female athletes who spent their lives mastering their games,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted in response to a story about McKinnon’s win.
Former cycling champion Victoria Hood told Sky News that “the science is there and it says that it is unfair. The male body, which has been through male puberty, still retains its advantage, that doesn’t go away.”
But that’s not true, according to research by Loughborough University. Following similar concerns after the Rio 2016 Olympics, scientists investigated whether trans women have an unfair edge in athletic competitions.
Their findings indicated that there’s no evidence of a competitive edge. Referring to policies that exclude trans women from sport, researcher Beth Jones said, “our research has also shown that these stringent and unfair policies have a negative impact on transgender people’s experiences of sport and physical activity, even when the activity is engaged in at a recreational level, such as considering joining a local football team or going to the gym.”
The Olympics have allowed transgender athletes since 2004, but initially imposed stringent limitations that did not apply to cisgender participants. Initially, trans athletes were required to undergo gender confirmation surgery and to have been taking hormones for two years. Following reforms in 2015, surgery is no longer required, but athletes must be tested for testosterone levels, a standard not imposed on other people.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, McKinnon pointed out, “in many Olympic disciplines, the gap in performance is bigger between first and eighth in a single sex event than it is between the first man and the first women.”
She also pointed out that many of her critics aren’t actually interested in women’s cycling, but instead want to attack trans women. “Talk of bathrooms has switched into sport by people who don’t care about sport,” McKinnon said.
Trump’s tweet brought a spotlight to McKinnon’s accomplishments, much of it negative. She responded with a tweet thread, pointing out that “medical professionals (WHO, AMA), mental health practitioners (both APA's), and sport (IOC) all say that trans women are *real* women, are really female. Cry about it all you want. Your feelings won't change the facts that we are.”