NEW MEXICO – Following intense controversy and outcry on social media, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – the organization that governs world sports cycling – defended their decision to allow a transgender woman to compete against biological females in the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, with the biological male going on to pick up the overall victory in the race.
Throughout the race, Austin Killips – a biological male who identifies as female – remained with the pack, but in the final minutes broke free and ultimately won with a time of 3:07:16, defeating accomplished cyclists Marcela Prieto and Cassandra Nelson during the final stage of the contest in the process.
The occasion marked the first time a trans female athlete won a UCI stage race; the reaction on social media was wildly negative, with many decrying what they referred to as the “unfair” biological advantages possessed by Killips.
But despite the blowback, the UCI defended their policy of allowing transgender athletes to compete against women, but noted they may amend the policy if science one day definitively declares that trans cyclists possess an unfair advantage.
“The UCI acknowledges that transgender athletes may wish to compete in accordance with their gender identity,” the organization said. “The UCI rules are based on the latest scientific knowledge and have been applied in a consistent manner. The UCI continues to follow the evolution of scientific findings and may change its rules in the future as scientific knowledge evolves.”
Previously, the UCI instituted stricter rules governing trans participation in women’s events, cutting the allowed testosterone levels of male-to-female athletes to 2.5 nanomoles per liter and doubling the required transition period to two full years.
Responding to the criticism surrounding the win on Instagram, Killips branded it as “nonsense.”
“After a week of nonsense on the internet I’m especially thankful to everyone in the peloton and sport who continue to affirm that twitter is not real life,” Killips said. “I love my peers and competitors and am grateful for every opportunity I get to learn and grow as a person and athlete on course together.”