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photo: Barking Cat Photography

New Zealand downhill mountain bike champ Kate Weatherly was on TVNZ this weekend sharing her story about being a transgender athlete. Kate has gender dysphoria and at age 17, made the decision to transition from male to female. In February, she won the National women’s downhill title by nearly 13s, and faced significant criticism as a result.

In the piece, Kate says she found the hormone therapy she underwent — which included testosterone blockers — actually inhibited her strength on the bike. Amid all the controversy and criticism, Kate says one of the most ridiculous ideas is that she is “[…] doing this to win races […].”

Watch part of the interview to hear Kate’s story firsthand.

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# Comments

  • sake

    I’m very torn on this issue as I am very happy for people like Kate who can transition and finally feel comfortable with their own body. On the other hand, in the context of racing (for prize money, scholarships, etc..), I have to respect that, at least early on in the transition process, she is potentially going to have an advantage over her female competitors given her testosterone levels and prior workouts while at those higher levels. If I was a 17 year old female competing against her I would no doubt feel that she has benefited as a result of living her first 15-16 years as a male with (presumably) high testosterone levels. Unfortunately, there is no good answer for this situation short of not allowing transgender females to compete which I do not want to see happen. I’m not sure what the Olympics rules are, but I know this is an issue they are facing in a number of disciplines. Hopefully, we as a society (and sport governing bodies) can come to an acceptable solution.

  • rajflyboy

    I enjoy when Jeff posts something new on Singletracks. You have the most interesting articles and thoughts.

    I won’t get into the politics on this one.

  • mongwolf

    I have my opinions on this topic as it relates to athletic competition, which I will not share here. However, I will say this, if I went the transgender route, I still wouldn’t win any races. =)

  • S h a n e

    I think being born male gives an advantage. So it’s not fair to the other competitors. It would be more competitive if there was a National transgender downhill title.

    • kwogfive

      Yes 100% true. Shoulder width, lung capacity and bone density are all advantages that can’t be hormoned away. I sure he is a talented rider but this is not a level playing field.

  • CaroCo

    If anyone has concerns over physiological differences/advantages, Dr. Rachel V Mckinnon did a very interesting interview on Mountain Bike Radio on this very topic. I highly recommend giving this a listen before forming opinions that could adversely impact someone’s ability to enjoy this wonderful sport.

    http://mountainbikeradio.com/mbr/mckinnon/

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