A transgender mountain biker dominating the women’s competition has said it’s ‘horrifying’ that critics think people like her are ruining the sport.
Kate Weatherly, 20, who began 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 formerly competed in the men’s open division, where she usually finished about mid-pack.
However, since her arrival in the women’s elite division in January, Weatherly has dominated her competitors, winning the national championships in February.
In a recent appearance on TVNZ, Weatherly said female athletes faced bigger issues than concerns over transgender women ‘ruining the sport’.
‘People talk about the fact that we’re coming in and ruining the sport, but there are way bigger issues that women in sport face,’ she said.
Kate Weatherly, 20, (pictured) who began taking hormone blockers when she was 17 said a proposed open competition for transgender riders would ‘limit their abilities’
‘The idea that a few trans women coming into a sport and often times not even winning, that’s what is going to ruin women’s sports, is pretty horrifying.’
FINA, the international sports federation for swimming, announced on Sunday that transgender women can now only compete in the organisation’s women’s races if they have completed their transition by the age of 12.
Instead, a new category will be established to accommodate transgender athletes who will no longer be able to compete against biological women.
Weatherly described the rules as a ‘cut and dry line’ and said the rules ‘masquerade as an inclusive policy’ but essentially ban trans women from being able to compete.
She said the rules requiring athletes to have transitioned by 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 formerly competed in the men’s open division where she usually finished about mid-pack
‘Some people have more testosterone during puberty than others, the length of puberty can be different,’ she said.
‘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 as she started to excel at mountain biking she was also pursuing a medical transition which took a toll on her teenage body.
She said she actually suffered biological and physiological disadvantages, rather than advantages, in her sport because of the transition.
Transgender women will often have their testosterone reduced to levels lower than biological women, which causes recovery time to increase, a lower red blood cell count and difficulty building and maintaining muscle, Weatherly said.
Since Weatherly 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 advantages, they ignore the fact there are these disadvantages that come along with a transition,’ she said.
She told Stuff that she disagreed with a proposed gender-neutral category for transgender athletes because, in her mind, 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 met with criticism when her transition was made public, with one athlete accusing her of making it ‘impossible’ for other women.
‘One racer said, “you’re ruining the sport by competing as a man in a women’s field, you’re going to make it impossible for women to get past you”,’ she recalled.
Weatherly (pictured) said she was met with criticism when her transition was made public with one athlete accusing her of making it ‘impossible’ for other women
FINA’s decision was announced in its Policy on Eligibility for the Men’s and Women’s Competition Categories which was instigated over complaints against US swimmer Lia Thomas who has been smashing women’s records.
International Swimming Federation President Husain Al-Musallam earlier this week said the decision was not designed to shut the door on transgender athletes, but to create level playing fields for all athletes.
‘FINA will always welcome every athlete. The creation of an open category will mean that everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level,’ Al-Musallam said.
‘This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process.’
Athletes can appeal the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world’s top sport court, which is based in Switzerland.