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Local transgender racer told she can’t enter men’s championship event – Updated

Posted by on December 10th, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Stumptown Criterium-13

Cameron at the Stumptown Criterium in 2014.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Molly Cameron, a 39-year old local professional cyclocross racer and owner of Portland Bicycle Studio, has just gotten some bad news. Despite a stellar racing season where she amassed 14 top five finishes in the highly competitive men’s “A” category, she has been told by USA Cycling (USAC, the governing body of racing in America) that she cannot race in the men’s event at the Cycloross National Championships next month in Asheville, North Carolina.

“At first I was forced to race with the dudes and now I’m being forced to race with the women.”

The reason? Cameron is transgender. She was assigned male at birth but identifies as a woman. She races with the men, but both her driver’s license and her USAC license both list her as a female (at her request). According to Cameron, USA Cycling is citing rule 7B.1(c) which states, “In National Championships, women may not enter men’s events.”

USAC does registration by the gender stated on one’s driver’s license. Cameron’s driver’s license has said “female” for the past twenty years.

Cameron has lived in Portland since 2002. She opened the Veloshop bike shop in northeast Portland in 2008, moved it downtown a few years later, and now has moved it to the Pearl District. Now called Portland Bicycle Studio, Cameron and her shop are huge supporters of the local race scene. She sponsors races and this year upped the ante by investing in a women’s racing team that competed all over the state.

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Open House at Portland Bicycle Studio-11

Cameron at an open house for her Portland Bicycle Studio.

According to a 2008 profile of Cameron in the Portland Mercury, Molly started racing with women when she first moved to town. After getting harrassed by female competitors, she was ultimately forced to race with men. (The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association said despite the fact that Cameron had taken estrogen hormones, she could only race with women if she had gender-reassignment surgery.) Cameron raced with the men begrudgingly. As she progressed in the sport she became one of the top racers in the country.

This year she was making plans to race at nationals but got concerned when she wasn’t able to register. The irony for Cameron is that when she first started racing in the 1990s, her USAC license listed her as a woman. “Then at some point they changed it without telling me,” Cameron said via a phone interview today. “I was like, what the fuck?” At Cameron’s request they changed her racing license back to woman, which is what it has been ever since.

Now that change has come back to haunt her.

Cameron says she’s exasperated by the situation but she’s not anti-USAC. On Facebook this evening she wrote, “Put away the pitchforks and torches, USA Cycling is not always right but they are trying. They are not the enemy.”

USAC hasn’t responded to our requests for comment. Cameron says they’ve offered her the ability to file a petition. But that process wouldn’t be completed in time for nationals which are just a month away.

Cameron is keeping a positive attitude about the situation. “I’m of two minds about this. Part of me is like, I’ll go race the woman’s category. Win or lose I’m sure it will piss a lot of people off.”

“I know I’m not the only trans woman out there,” Cameron continued, “Is it going to do more harm than good to let me race with the men? This is really kind of hilarious. At first I was forced to race with the dudes and now I’m being forced to race with the women.”

UPDATE, 8:48 pm: USA Cycling Manager of Communications Kevin Loughery has just sent us the following statement:

“Our national championships rules — unlike regional or non-championships events — state that competitors must race in the gender category stated on his or her license. However, we understand that this is a complicated issue and the application of our existing gender rules in this case may not be what was intended. We seek to be fair to all transgender athletes, including Molly, and will immediately look into this case to see if we can find a just solution.”

UPDATE #2, 12/16: USA Cycling has reversed its decision. Read more in VeloNews.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Mao
Guest
Mao

“born as a man” “identifies as a woman” “driver’s license and her USAC license both list her as a female”

Male and female can no longer be used interchangeably with man and woman. What you are born as shapes the physical developments. You can alter some of these with hormones, other features are locked into place such as bone and muscle structures.

The varying degrees of gender identities and the physical effects thereof creates an interesting conundrum for professional-type sports. Is the correct response to sub-divide league into Male, Female, MtF, FtM?

Gabriel Amadeus
Guest

Instead of racing to figure out who is best and who is not, perhaps we should just be happy with the wide gradient of humans and their abilities.

NC
Guest
NC

And we can all get Participation Medals too!

soren
Guest

A significant fraction of the wide gradient of humans enjoy figuring out who is the fastest bike pedaler.

Tolerance is hard work.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Tolerance is really easy. It seems like those who spend a lot of time preaching tolerance are the ones who have the most difficulty actually exercising tolerance. I see this in my everyday HR life. In fact, I live it. As a very lonely white, conservative male in a HR office dominated by men and women (I’ve been warned off of using such identifiers, of course), I’m almost universally shamed by all. If I try to explain proper procedures and compliance requirements, I am mansplaining. If I express an opinion that we ought to simply ignore skin color and focus on diversity of ability, I am called a bigot.

So, again, tolerance is really easy, unless you cannot tolerate other disagreeing with you. I’ve encountered that here, too, having been accused of bigotry for simply expressing an opposing opinion. Note that the opinion was not ever actually addressed, I was simply accused of racism. Orwell is truly spinning.

9watts
Subscriber

“If I try to explain proper procedures and compliance requirements, I am mansplaining. If I express an opinion that we ought to simply ignore skin color and focus on diversity of ability, I am called a bigot.”

Interesting. Maybe what your saying to your colleagues sounds problematic to them? I know some of the things you’ve said here struck me as problematic in just the ways you describe. Those terms your colleagues reference are not just made up, you know; they draw our attention to actual social issues we as a society are doing a rather mediocre job of acknowledging, addressing, leaving behind, much less solving.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

“Problematic”? Yeah, they, like you, disagree with some of the ideas or thoughts I express. And then, rather than logically and rationally addressing the point, I am accused of some social faux pax or pathology.

For example, express that you’re opposed to affirmative action programs that rely on preferences based on race because that is exercising discrimination on the basis of race, you’re told that you’re a racist bigot. Note that the actual reasoning I employ is not addressed. It’s merely that their disagreement with me means I am a bigot.

I am sure that my comments here will have me labelled as transphobic or some such. Of course, it won’t be because I expressed a hateful or intolerant attitude toward the transgendered. It will be only because I expressed an opinion that was in conflict with what the accuser believes or what Molly here wants/desires. That’s not transphobia, of course, but it’s how people around these parts respond to arguments/opinions that they disagree with, they accuse the other person of being a bigot.

longgone
Guest
longgone

Egads, I’m a closeted bisexual from 1972 and your reply to BevertonRider bores me to tears. Molly rocks. Insure she is laughing at most of this drivel.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Why would she be laughing? The comments here are thoughtful, provoking, and made in good faith. There is no hatred, intolerance, etc., being presented.

soren
Guest

Expressing an opinion is not intolerance but expressing an opinion in a manner that invalidates or excludes the opinion of others is intolerance.

For example:

“Except, you’re not assigned a gender at birth. You are born as you are. We need not distort biology to serve of individualistic needs to “identify” as x or y or m or whatever.”

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Wait, what? It is “intolerant” to express an opinion that “invalidates” the opinion of another? I think you’re really taking some liberty here with our language. Expressing an opinion that is opposed to an opinion of another person is hardly intolerance. Real intolerance would be to demand that the other person’s opinion be removed or banned.

Are scientists acting in an intolerant way when they peer review scientific studies and when unable to replicate the conditions and results end up refuting the claims/conclusions of other scientists? Of course not.

Further, by posting my comments here how exactly am I excluding the comments of others as you suggest? How is posting a comment in a public forum am expression of intolerance.

As noted above, I think you’re taking a lot of liberty in stretching our language to accommodate your definition of intolerance in an attempt to shame me.

I hope Jonathan permits this to be posted.

soren
Guest

Invalidate and exclude are not synonyms.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Soren, I didnt say or imply they were. I was responding to your comment wherein you used those words. Its also why I separated them into separate paragraphs.

soren
Subscriber

Scientists do not peer-review opinions. In fact, science and rational discourse has little to do with “opinion”.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Soren, I didnt suggest or say that scientists peer-review opinions. You did say that I was behaving in an intolerant way because I was posting an opposing viewpoint. Just as scientists are not intolerant of their peers when the peer review and arrive at conflicting conclusions, neither am I being intolerant of others by posting facts or reasonable arguments.

Simply disagreeing with others is not a sign of intolerance. Arguing with others is not a sign of intolerance.

soren
Guest

opinions are subjective personal expression, not data or facts. as someone who often complains about liberals’ lack of critical thinking it seems to me that you could practice what you preach.

Velvetackbar
Guest
Velvetackbar

Wait… OBRA actually cares what is in her pants? That makes me profoundly uncomfortable. Her genitalia should only be of concern to her and those she is intimate with.

chris
Guest
chris

If it doesn’t matter, would you be comfortable removing the gender divisions in MMA and letting any male who identifies as female beat the shit out female competitors?

scott
Guest
scott

Well, I know I want to see POS Floyd Mayweather take Ronda ROusey up on her challenge…

davemess
Guest
davemess

This has been an issue recently in track and field.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caster_Semenya

eddie
Guest
eddie

Gender is a social construct, not a body type.

Perhaps for athletic purposes, there shouldn’t be gendered categories at all.

Maybe there’s a way to typify body types and create categories accordingly. But you’d have to be scientific about it and not use gender or sex as a factor.

Or subdivide as mentioned above… but having more than 4 categories might get cumbersome… it’s an interesting conundrum indeed.

soren
Guest

Gender is a social construct, not a body type.

Gender is a social construct but it’s also a biological construct and that biology is far murkier than many ideological conservatives are willing to admit.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber
tedder
Guest

Well said. Gendered sports certainly makes it a problematic issue.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

It seems to me if Molly wants to be ” list her as a female (at her request),” then she needs to accept the fact that she must compete in the women’s category. Until the categories change, this is the only reasonable course of action. Since her classification as a female is at “her request,” this decision shouldn’t come as a surprise. There doesn’t appear to be any news here.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Molly did race with women, after being harassed and female racers lodging complaints, she was forced by the sanctioning bodies to race with men. The article failed to mention that she raced with elite men as well for several years in Europe.

This is news because the sanctioning body, USAC, has a double standard of rules, one for non championship races and one for championships.

Her palmares alone should give her the ability to race with men, regardless of her license or gender.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

It’s not a double standard. Across many variables, the rules will shift between championship and non-championship events, including timing systems used; and drug- and doping testing. And it’s quite reasonable, too. If you’re going to compete for an official championship, then you seek to ensure that competition is fair.

9watts
Subscriber

“Her palmares alone”

Palmares? What is that?
And I looked it up. Couldn’t figure out what you were saying.

longgone
Guest
longgone

Twenty dollars says, ( now that you have learned this word..) you will view the literal translation in French, as a “micro-aggression “.

Spiffy
Subscriber
9watts
Guest
9watts

thanks, Spiffy. You are better with Google, apparently.

craig
Guest
craig

@ Matt… Why would the women complain if Molly raced with them? “she’s a women–right?” They are supposed to be enlightened and accepting of transgender folks–right? 😉 Molly, herself identities as a women.. so, I say race with the women and win!…. own it! Heck, win the women nationals and then go on to win the worlds… I don’t see what racing with the men gets her?

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I don’t recall all the details, but Molly was dominant in the women’s races and I would bet would win the National Championships if racing the women’s Elite/Pro category.

dan
Guest
dan

Yeah, this is a slippery question. I don’t pretend to know what’s “right,” but I imagine that Molly has testosterone levels way higher than other women, which means she’s stronger / benefits more from training. In a male competitor, that would be a sign of steroid use, and would bar you from competition…so…having Molly race in womens’ competitions seems problematic to me. Just my $.02.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Of course it is problemmatic… Molly is, indeed, a man. Molly has not undergone sexual reassignment surgery or acomprehensive hormonal regimen. So, biologically, physically, Molly is a man.

The real issue is not whether Molly should be respected as a woman. The real issue here is whether Molly’s choice to “identify” as a woman should compel the rest of is to contort our language, our common biology, or common rules to accommodate his need to identify as a woman.

Our courtesy is an obligation, but that’s it. The language contortions and hypersensitivity should be resisted.

HL
Guest
HL

I don’t know how much you know about hormone replacement therapy, but I can almost certainly guarantee you that the range of variation between Molly and her competitors in the woman’s field is almost nil. The point of HRT is to get testosterone levels and estrogen levels to where they are in most cis women, through the use of an anti-androgen and synthetic estrogen. Also, races arent decided by who does or doesn’t have the most testosterone in them. Chris Boardman had extremely low testosterone throughout his career. Furthermore, attitudes like yours lead to ridiculous and harmful practices, like the rude and invasive testing of Castor Semenya.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

I remember from the baseball steroid things, that the benefits of testosterone don’t stop when you you stop taking it. So growing up with it could give someone an edge against the female field.

So she is placing herself at a disadvantage in racing against the men (estrogen certainly is) to ensure an even field for the women, and this is a problem?

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Gendered sports create lots of issues. When I was in high school there were girls at other schools being allowed to kick for football teams and at my own school several girls were allowed to participate in boys wrestling because there were no girls football or wrestling teams. However when I and several other boys wanted to play volleyball, of which there was also only one team we were not allowed to do so because it was a “girls” sport and that would be unfair. I have a feeling that Molly is going to experience more ire from other competitors in the women’s race if and when she wins that.

Forum Law Group LLC - Bicycle Law
Guest

Go USAC go!

Matt P
Guest
Matt P

USAC is jealous because Molly does more for racing in oregon than they do.

Jeff Snavely
Guest
Jeff Snavely

I’m sure USAC will see that it’s in their best interest to make an exception here, if only to avoid the even greater backlash that would ensue over letting Cameron race with the women.

Long term, I’m not sure how we expect sports, built around fat rulebooks, to deal with flexible gender identity.

eddie
Guest
eddie

I figure, if someone’s athletic ability makes for better competition, for themselves and for their competitors, they should waive gender requirements. I knew a woman who actually had to disguise herself to play men’s hockey in high school… she just wasn’t challenged playing with the women. Her teammates were super supportive, great story.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Generally speaking the reason that sports separate men and women into different events is due to biology. Men are physically faster and stronger. For example the men’s running marathon world record time is 2:02:57 while the women’s record time is 2:15:25, somewhere around 10% slower. Since women are not as strong or fast I don’t understand why USA Cycling would care what men’s category Molly was racing. She has competed and placed well in men’s categories in national level events this year. OBRA has always allowed women to compete in men’s categories regardless of the event.

Paul
Guest
Paul

I am male, but nearly all professional athletes are physically faster and stronger than me, including female ones. If I became a professional athlete, why would it make sense to put my in the faster/strong category instead of the slower/weaker category which better matches my actual attributes?

Dan
Guest
Dan

Interesting side note: OBRA has a rule which explicitly states that women are allowed to race in a men’s category (6.6.2). One of the Hart girls has been regularly doing so this cross season.

NC
Guest
NC

Until recently there was only one Single speed race, not Gender defined. But you are right, this year there are both male and female Singlespeed races, and she does indeed race and does well in the ‘male’ race as do other females. Go Susanna!

HJ
Guest
HJ

Yep, and you see it even more at track races! There aren’t very many women who race track so the fast ones will usually race with the men to practice competing at high speeds.

Stacey M
Guest
Stacey M

Of all the grave injustices going on in the world this one deserves to be near the top of the list. Especially since she tried to race as a female after taking male hormones years ago.

Thank God this also landed on the home page of Velo News, gender~busting revolutionaries like this are sure to bolster Portlandia’s image as a community who is unafraid to challenge social norms and who embraces important issues like this that will pave the way for a American city where everyone is treated equally.

Look at how great Portland is: A transgender athlete gets headlines for challenging social norms in a sporting event. Meanwhile I’m Saudi Arabia homosexuals are still routinely executed. At least we can focus on local sexual identity issues and hopefully they get a lot of publicity and the rest of the world can follow our morally superior example.

Unfortunately this important issue of transgender equality often gets buried by other issues that don’t even have any apparent solution: climate change, religious extremism, ocean acidification, pollution, water & resource scarcity, and over population.

bendite
Guest
bendite

Kind of rude tongue in cheek.

Der Berggeist
Guest

I don’t understand how this is all of a sudden a thing, again. Molly’s been kicking ass and taking names in the Men’s competitions for years. She’s competed in the Men’s national championships before.

Furthermore, what OBRA decides to do in Oregon has shit all nothing to do with how USAC regulates racing.

You’re all beautiful

🙂

Brendan Treacy
Guest
Brendan Treacy

We could just have ability levels and no gender and/or sex divisions, but that would cause a problem for women who would get squeezed out at the higher levels. The gender division is partly a hold out from the old days but it’s also partly an attempt to make racing more engaging for women and boost their participation in sports which is still low compared to men (especially in cycling). As long as there is a division I think the only fair way to the sport is to base it on physical anatomy, but then there are privacy issues and gray areas with people who have hormone therapy or fall outside of the male and female absolutes.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

But, soren, what is murky about the biology? And why do you suppose that conservatives have a problem with this “murkiness”?

tedder
Guest

What’s murky about biology? Well, some quick examples that might be easier to understand since they are genetic: XXY, XYY, Turner, mosaicism.

Why do conservatives have a problem with “murkiness”? I don’t think you’ll be happy with cultural anthropology that attempts to explain this.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Hilarious!
thanks, tedder. I thought about a saucy reply but am glad you wrote one instead of me.

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Please enlighten me, fellas. I was asking in good faith. I just dont understand the conservatives have a problem with this murkiness line.

scott
Guest
scott

Don’t forget Chimerism!

All Women
Guest
All Women

Maybe guys should just keep their issues to themselves and not use women’s sports as a dumping ground or support system for their feelings, gendered or not. Think you could handle that guys? That would really be swell. Sincerely, all women.

dan
Guest
dan

scott
BeavertonRider, you simply don’t understand. That’s ok though. Just like hetero people shouldn’t have a say in gay rights and males shouldn’t have a say in women’s reproductive rights, cis identified people only need to learn about transgender equality. If you are cis, just learn. Your opinion doesn’t need enter the equation.Recommended 3

This may quite possibly be the most intolerant comment I’ve read on this blog. Also the most polarizing and disenfranchising. Congrats!

pink$$
Guest
pink$$

I feel like the comment preceding it is a pretty strong contender.

soren
Guest

How and why? Please explain. I dare you.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Matt
Molly did race with women, after being harassed and female racers lodging complaints, she was forced by the sanctioning bodies to race with men. The article failed to mention that she raced with elite men as well for several years in Europe.This is news because the sanctioning body, USAC, has a double standard of rules, one for non championship races and one for championships.Her palmares alone should give her the ability to race with men, regardless of her license or gender.Recommended 23

As one of Molly’s friendly competitors in the bike business in this metro area, it’s really disheartening to see one of the genuinely good folks in our racket going through this shit. She’s proven an ability to race with men, let her race. Administrators in racing, just like other arenas, get an unfortunate habit of falling in love with their rule books and job titles from time to time.

Ted Timmons
Guest

Here’s a game to play. If this bothers you, or you have strong opinions against Molly, why? How does this affect you? If you believe there are two genders, black and white, no exclusions, does it really bother you if others feel differently?

Apollo Crede
Guest
Apollo Crede

Ted,

Doesn’t bother me one bit if Molly wants to be a woman or a man. BUT no special rights for Molly or anyone else. If you’re a woman, you compete with women in sports. If you’re a man, you compete with men. Does that make sense to you? Your gender is determined by what is between your legs – always has been that way and will always be that way – and wishing it were different will not make it different.

If the consensus disagrees and thinks it’s OK for men to compete with women then I will start to compete with women in boxing. You will not like the results.

Amy
Guest
Amy

It is tough to be a female persuing an athletic endeavor. There’s a lot of discrimination and disrespect that men never experience. We often just learn to deal with it because if we complain we get labeled one of the many derogatory terms used to describe women who don’t conform to the traditional roles. It just how it is. Transgender men wanting to compete with genetic women show a lack of respect for women trying to compete in athletic endeavors. If transgender men truly knew what it was like to be a woman, especially trying to compete in athletics, they’d chose to exercise their desires to be like women in other avenues.
Molly is a nice person. She does a lot for cycling. She is genetically a man, that’s a fact not a problem. If she wishes to be thought of and described as a woman, that’s okay. When it comes to competition, to be respectful of the gender she identifies with, recognition of the struggles we’ve had in the male-dominated world of Athletics would be appropriate. We don’t need or want men dominating one of the few venues where we can be strong women and proud of what we accomplish. Competing in the mens field is the most appropriate place for Molly right now. I believe she knows that. USA cycling needs to appreciate and respect what women try to do in cycling. Sadly, though, we’ve always been second to every men’s event in most all ways (unless we dress provocatively which is the wrong kind of attention).
Maybe they’ll do the right thing and actually let Molly again race in the men’s field. That’s where she belong in competitions.

Beth
Guest

Wait. MOLLY CAMERON IS OVER 40?!

PJ
Guest
PJ

I’ve followed Molly’s racing since 2005, and she can hold her own against just about any male racer on any given day. If she is not allowed to race with the men (as she has at the National Championships in the past), she should be allowed to race with the women. The conundrum is that (a) she doesn’t want to ride with the women (which would realistically be unfair to the majority of the women’s field), and (b) she is effectively asking to race “over her head”, since a woman in a men’s field is typically at a physical disadvantage (assuming all else is equal, such as age and racing category). Why should USAC all of a sudden decide to make an issue of this, if the situation is the same as previous years’ National Championships? Is this just another example of political correctedness gone crazy?
GO MOLLY!!!!!

Mao
Guest
Mao

BIKELEPTIC
I was born with “female reproductive organs” and assigned a woman at birth. I go by the pronouns “she” and her” – I wear skirts, heels, and even sometimes make-up. However, due to disease that ravished my body at a very young age, my body doesn’t “regularly release an egg.” I will never have to make the decision of having children or not.Does this make me less of a woman? The capability of reproducing. Are we cattle to put in column A or B?Europe is rolling their eyes at our old-fashioned, puritanical view of sexuality. Germany allows birth certificates to be left blank now.Recommended 0

Germany also required that gender be identifiable via name for those same children. My real name would be against the law since it functions nicely for both genders.

Josh
Guest
Josh

I somehow made it through every comment on this article and now I have a headache. I imagine that it doesn’t even come close to the garbage that Molly has been, and still has to deal with throughout her entire life, about legitimate or not she is as a human.

longgone
Guest
longgone

This is true. But the fact remains, people generally really suck. People are intolerant close minded selfish buffoons. People can’t even have a discussion, because they assume the worst in others whom they don’t understand. People post blog stories then filter comments from responders. People go to war over religion or land. People live in Portland and hate each other because they don’tuse recycled cconcrete to trim their gardens.
I agree with you Josh. I’m nearly 56 years old. I have simply identified as bi since 1970. I knew I was. not even my best close gay friends included me in their world until this past decade without some kinda pushback. I aint cryin in my soup, im too old to give a crap about it anymore. But i will say im sick of people fighting over this . i dont think it will ever end. Tolerance. Good luck.

longgone
Guest
longgone

Why was my comment about my gay nazi sympathizer coworker, who prefers Thai ladyboy dominance removed from the conversation ? It was not presented in poor taste, and is relevant to the conversation. Tone was not an issue. This is America, after all.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I wonder.