A transgender mountain biker who dominates the women’s competition has said it’s “horrifying” that critics think people like her are ruining the sport.
Kate Weatherly, 20, who started taking hormone blockers when she was 17, said a proposed open competition for transgender athletes would “limit their abilities.”
The New Zealand athlete was considered an average rider when she previously competed in the men’s open division, where she usually finished around the middle of the pack.
However, since her arrival in the elite women’s division in January, Weatherly has dominated her competition and won the national championships in February.
In a recent appearance on TVNZ, Weatherly said female athletes faced bigger problems than concerns about transgender women “ruining the sport.”
“People talk about us coming in and ruining the sport, but there are much bigger issues that women in sport have to deal with,” she said.
Kate Weatherly, 20, (pictured) who started taking hormone blockers when she was 17, said a proposed open competition for transgender riders would ‘limit their abilities’
“The idea that a couple of trans women entering a sport and often not even winning is going to ruin women’s sport is pretty chilling.”
FINA, the international sports federation for swimming, announced on Sunday that transgender women are now only allowed to compete in the organization’s women’s races if they have completed their transition by the age of 12.
Instead, a new category will be established for transgender athletes who will no longer be able to compete with biological women.
Weatherly described the rules as a “short line” and said the rules “masked as an inclusive policy,” but essentially prohibit trans women from competing.
She said the rules requiring athletes to transition before their 12th birthday were “arbitrary limits” and said young people went through puberty at different times.
Weatherly (pictured) was considered an average rider when she previously competed in the men’s open division, where she usually finished about halfway through
“Some people have more testosterone than others during puberty, the length of puberty can be different,” she says.
“I was quite a sick kid growing up, so I actually started puberty quite late, so based on age limit, how can we apply those rules in such a sweeping way.”
Weatherly said that as she began to excel at mountain biking, she also pursued a medical transition that took a toll on her teenage body.
She said she actually had biological and physiological disadvantages rather than advantages in her sport because of the transition.
Transgender women often have their testosterone reduced to levels lower than biological women, which increases recovery time, lowers red blood cell counts and makes it more difficult to build and maintain muscle, Weatherly said.
Since Weatherly’s arrival in the women’s elite division in January, Weatherly has dominated the scene, winning the national championships in February.
“I think because people are so focused on the benefits, they ignore that there are drawbacks that come with transition,” she said.
She told Stuff that she disagreed with a proposed gender-neutral category for transgender athletes because in her eyes she is a woman.
My thing is, I’m not gender neutral. I’m a girl. The whole idea of a third category invalidates my sense of identity,” she said.
Weatherly said she was criticized when her transition was made public, with an athlete accusing her of making it “impossible” for other women.
One racer said, ‘You’re ruining the sport by competing in a women’s field as a man, you’re making it impossible for women to get past you,’ she recalls.
Weatherly (pictured) said she was criticized when her transition was made public, with an athlete accusing her of making it “impossible” for other women
FINA’s decision was announced in its Men’s and Women’s Eligibility Policy, which was initiated following complaints against American swimmer Lia Thomas, who has broken women’s records.
International Swimming Federation president Husain Al-Musallam said earlier this week the decision was not intended to close the door to transgender athletes, but to create a level playing field for all athletes.
“FINA will always welcome any athlete. The creation of an open category means that everyone will have the opportunity to compete at an elite level,” Al-Musallam said.
“This has never been done before, so FINA will have to take the lead. I want all athletes to feel involved in developing ideas during this process.’
Athletes can appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world’s premier sports court based in Switzerland.
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