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Oregon Bicycle Racing Association votes to retain controversial board member

Posted by on December 10th, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Screen grab of Save Women’s Sports article showing OBRA Board Member Inga Thompson at a rally in Washington D.C.

The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) has decided that one of their board members accused of “pervasive transphobia” can remain on their board of directors.

At-large OBRA board member and three-time Olympic cyclist Inga Thompson has come under scrutiny from some OBRA members who feel her conduct discriminates against transgender athletes. Thompson works closely with a group named Save Women’s Sports and was featured in an article published on their site in October titled, Male athletes are taking over women’s cycling.

In October Thompson represented Save Women’s Sports at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C.. The rally aimed to “preserve women’s rights” and prevent the Supreme Court from including “gender identity” in the legal definition of “sex”. If that happened, the group worried that, “Any male could self-identify as a female and compete against women at every level of athletics, which would effectively destroy women’s sports.”

“The board recognizes how some of Inga’s actions and communications around this issue could be seen as problematic and hurtful to some in our community.”
— OBRA Board of Directors

Thompson is also working to prevent transgender females from competing in the elite women’s category. In a letter she sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC, who recently delayed new transgender guidelines), Thompson thinks the solution is a separate category. “It’s unfair for Transgender XY Women to compete against XX Women in sports,” she wrote, “Many more XY Women would compete if they knew it would be a fair playing field.”

Last month, Portland bike shop owner Rachel Cameron accused Thompson of “pervasive transphobia” and launched a petition (which has 478 signatures so far) to have her removed from the OBRA board.

One of the signatures on that petition belongs to Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@SportIsARight), a World Champion track racer who was born male but is now legally a female and competes in the women’s category. In a New York Times op-ed published last week, McKinnon wrote, “I’m legally female… Trans women are women. We are female. And we are not taking over.”

The OBRA Board of Directors looked into the issue when members found Thompson’s proposal to be “problematic”. They announced in an email Monday afternoon that Thompson will not be removed.

Here’s more from their statement:

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“Our commitment to upholding OBRA’s rules and policies, as approved by our membership, supersedes any personal views or opinions of any board member. It is our duty to defend OBRA’s rules regardless of our personal opinions of them.

After a lot of discussion around Inga’s proposal to the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and her actions around that proposal, the board has decided on the following:

— The board understands the intent of Inga’s proposal is to add an elite category for women that are currently being excluded from the women’s field by the IOC’s, and OBRA’s, transgender participation policy. The board found that this proposal does not pose a conflict of interest with the organization’s rules, mission or statement of diversity.

— The board recognizes how some of Inga’s actions and communications around this issue could be seen as problematic and hurtful to some in our community. We will be working, as a group, to better educate ourselves around these issues, including participating in SafeSport training, leadership education, and diversity, equity and inclusion training.

— The board feels that Inga’s experience as a pioneer in women’s cycling, including her personal experience of discrimination in sport, is an asset to the board. The board decided to not remove Inga from the Board of Directors.”

OBRA added that their board had, “Varied personal opinions around this, and the conversation highlighted our differences.”

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“It is disappointing that Inga doesn’t see fit to resign… She clearly does have a conflict of interest, and it’s sad that she can’t see that.”
— Rachel Cameron

In a message to BikePortland today, McKinnon responded to OBRA’s decision as, “Overtly transphobic and in clear violation of OBRA’s policies and principles.” McKinnon is referring to OBRA’s diversity policy which reads (in part), “We strive to create an environment in which everyone feels valued and respected.”

Reached via email for her response, Cameron said, “It is disappointing that Inga doesn’t see fit to resign… She clearly does have a conflict of interest, and it’s sad that she can’t see that. I’d love to see her delete her posts related to the IOC letter she sent, and also stop retweeting dangerous misinformation on Twitter if she is going to remain one of the decision makers for OBRA.”

Cameron is referring to a string of anti-transgender comments posted to Thompson’s personal Facebook page (that she later deleted after OBRA board leadership was notified) and the most recent tweet from the Inga Thompson Foundation Twitter account that is a retweet of someone referring to transgender athletes as “male”, a form of misgendering.

“At this point it’s not even about transgenders, it’s this rad femme group. The transgenders I know are all very reasonable, very good people.”
— Inga Thompson

In a phone interview from her eastern Oregon cattle ranch last night, Thompson said she aims to be more inclusive of transgender athletes, not less. “My feeling is that asking a transgender to take hormone suppressing drugs just to compete is not right. Why can’t they identify as a woman and still race?” Thompson was referring to current International Olympic Committee and OBRA elite competition transgender guidelines that allow people who’ve transitioned from male to female to compete in the women’s category; but only if they have a minimum level of testosterone in their blood of 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to their first competition (and remain at or below that level).

“In order to stay within those guidelines, you have to take hormone suppression,” Thompson said, “And my feeling is you are excluding a whole class of athletes that want to identify as a woman but don’t want to sacrifice their health.” Her proposal would leave the women’s category “untouched” and create an “open women’s category” that would also include women who take hormone therapy for health reasons.

Screen grab from Save Women’s Sports.

Thompson says her motivation is to help OBRA boost its number of women racers. She believes a 20% dip in women’s participation is related to the transgender issue and a small group of members she refers to as the “rad femmes” (short for radical feminists). “The problem with OBRA right now… is because you have the rad femme group that terrorizes a lot of people and the OBRA board is not willing to deal with this. This group targeted three members of the OBRA board, so they’re scared… And a lot of people don’t race because of this rad femme group and OBRA itself is complicit for allowing this to happen,” Thompson said. “At this point it’s not even about transgenders, it’s this rad femme group. The transgenders I know are all very reasonable, very good people.”

“I’m a woman brave enough to speak out,” she continued. “Most people won’t speak out due to fear of being labeled a transphobe.”

And many transgender/non-binary people fear that racing in a separate category would jeopardize their privacy and put a dangerous target on their back — a fear that’s not unfounded in a society where gender discrimination and hate crimes are common. When I asked Thompson about this, she went back to the “rad femmes” theory. “Why do the rad femmes not want more inclusion of transgender women? I find it really interesting that they won’t support the women that choose not to do hormone suppression therapy.”

When I asked Thompson about the Save Women’s Sports article that stokes fear about athletes like Rachel McKinnon “taking over”, Thompson distanced herself from the article and the organization. “I’m not Save Women’s Sports, I’m part of it, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything,” she said. And despite the fact that a photo and a quote of her appears in the article, Thompson claimed she wasn’t aware of it. When I read her quote back to her (“I feel that the International Olympic Committee and USOC will do nothing until there are no more biological women on the podium”) she said it was a misquote and that she was commenting on the IOC’s stance, not her personal views.

“Separate but equal is inherently unjust. Inga is knowingly spreading irrational fears of trans women in sport, which is the dictionary definition of transphobia.”
— Rachel McKinnon, PhD and 2X World Champion track racer

For her part, McKinnon is not a fan of Thompson’s separate category idea. “Separate but equal is inherently unjust,” McKinnon share with me today. McKinnon feels cis women (those who identify with their birth gender) aren’t excluded by including trans women. “Creating a cis-woman only category necessarily excludes trans women. Inga is knowingly spreading irrational fears of trans women in sport, which is the dictionary definition of transphobia.”

Asked whether she feels Save Women’s Sports is a transphobic organization, Thompson avoided a direct answer and said her involvement with the group is for networking. “It’s about getting feedback from all people. Because of involvement from all sides, one can find a balance in the middle to have fair play and inclusion of all.” Pressed for an answer, Thompson said, “Beth [Stelzer, the organization’s founder] believes in protecting women.” When I asked if it’s possible to adhere to OBRA’s inclusivity bylaws while working with Save Women’s Sports, Thompson again didn’t answer directly. “You need to be asking the hard question from the activists as to why they don’t support more inclusion and forcing transgender women to take hormone suppression,” she replied.

At this point, Thompson said she feels the unanimous vote of support from the OBRA Board validates her proposal. “They might not have liked the way I got there, but if no feelings get hurt you have not had a true open discussion.”

For OBRA member Rachel Cameron, Thompson’s work and statements thus far have been “hurtful and harmful” to trans athletes. “OBRA saying that she has experience with discrimination in sport, while she is actively trying to discriminate against trans women, feels disingenuous.” Cameron says she’ll now focus on the two open OBRA Board positions opening next month. “I’m going to focus my energy more on getting allies on the board, and less on getting Inga removed.”

*OBRA has an adopted policy on transgender athletes which you can read here (PDF, begins on page 103).

UPDATE, 12/12: OBRA just announced that Inga Thompson has resigned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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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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J
Guest
J

My anti-trans athlete stance isn’t at all transphobic, in fact it’s the feminists who are keeping women from racing.

makes total sense and doesn’t at all sound like the ravings of a ***insult deleted by moderator***

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Let me discuss optics here. Jonathan, I realize that this probably isn’t your intention and I certainly don’t want to be in the position of telling you how to run your own website, but when a person visiting this site sees that you’ve moderated an insult on one person’s post (a post that expresses, perhaps in a somewhat crude manner, a legitimate anger towards one who has said transphobic things) but then sees a bunch of casually transphobic posts below that have not been moderated (a post that links to a recognized hate group as pointed out by Soren comes to mind), it makes it seem as though you are taking sides against those who disavow transphobia, and furthermore, against transgender people. I know according to your rules here that you have a general policy of moderating insults and name-calling, and I’m not criticizing that policy. I recognize its necessity in order to maintain civil dialogue. I also know based on what I’ve seen in BikePortland that YOU are not transphobic, so please don’t take this as an accusation of transphobia. However, it may behoove you to moderate transphobic or otherwise bigoted comments with equal zeal to moderating posts that are merely insulting. I do apologize if this is already what you’re doing and that you’re merely falling behind on moderating such content, which if that’s the case is a somewhat sad commentary on the bigotry of our society.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I contend it would be impossible to moderate this “conversation” in a way that everyone thinks is fair and reasonable.

Matt Case
Guest
Matt Case

I find interesting Inga’s assertion people are being terrorized: “The problem with OBRA right now… is because you have the rad femme group that terrorizes a lot of people and the OBRA board is not willing to deal with this.” This is a very emotional topic, and the discourse has been reflective, but indirectly labeling side as terrorists is a disgusting escalation.

bikepedal
Guest
bikepedal

Inga Thompson’s whole platform is inflammatory and hateful. She’s grasping at straws right now. Calling folks who are working for inclusion “rad femmes” who are terrorists is a tactic straight out of a Fox News style propaganda playbook.

HJ
Guest
HJ

The reason Inga says that is because it’s the truth. I’ve witnessed this happening firsthand. The group in question even has an entire facebook group set up for the purposes of organizing doxxing campaigns. To date i know that they have rather gleefully cost several individuals, deservedly or not (depending on perspective) their jobs. That of course doesn’t even scratch the surface of the general bullying they engage in with those they disagree with.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

The one thing that seems clear to me in listening to her speak about this is that she either does not grasp or does not care that many trans people are not out and may not want to have their full name and the city they live in plus possibly other identifying information listed in race results that out them as trans. She also has a real problem with intentionally misgendering people in a way that seems to be designed to cause harm, and she hasn’t really scrubbed that from her social media at this point so I wonder how committed to not doing that on an ongoing basis both she and OBRA are.

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

Ladies, you are no longer “women”. Transgender women are “real women”, you are “cis” women. Welcome to the “oppressor” class.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Equal rights for trans women doesn’t mean less rights for cis women. Calm down.

Hazel Light
Guest
Hazel Light

Cis literally just means “not trans.” The point of language like cis and trans is so that nobody is referred to as a “real woman.” The notion of who.is a “real” man or woman is often used against trans people to assert that we are fake or.less than cis people. Cis and trans are meant to be descriptive of one’s relationship to his/her/their gender. They’re not pejorative in any way as you seem to think.

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

Hazel Light
Cis literally just means “not trans.” The point of language like cis and trans is so that nobody is referred to as a “real woman.”

The point of language like “cis-women”, doesn’t even have anything to do with transgenderism. It’s about indoctrinating people to surrender and accept what they’re told. Cult leaders re-name their followers for the same reason- accepting the new name is to psychologically “kill” the former self. They know they’ve got you then.

JP
Guest
JP

There’s a saying that when you’re used to privilege, equality looks like a threat. If people are threatened by the use of the prefix “cis,” they should probably just thank their lucky stars they have been so fortunate to have lived lives in which adding a clarifying prefix feels challenging.

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

JP
There’s a saying that when you’re used to privilege, equality looks like a threat. If people are threatened by the use of the prefix “cis,” they should probably just thank their lucky stars they have been so fortunate to have lived lives in which adding a clarifying prefix feels challenging.

It’s funny how all of these alleged “sayings” are more like unfalsifiable koans.

JP
Guest
JP

Okay.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Some people prefer not to be identified with those terms. Perhaps we should not assign labels to them without knowing their preferences.

Some of us still prefer the term “straight” 🙂

Candor Cane
Guest
Candor Cane

I apologize here if I’m misinterpreting your comment, MOTRG, but it seems that you are implying that the term ‘cis’ is equivalent to ‘straight’.

This is not the case.

I’m a cis male, but I’m gay as hell.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The larger point being that people should be able to control their own identity and how they are identified.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Well…. there are limits to that. And most of them show up when the way you want to identify yourself ends up insulting/erasing someone else.

Assuming that MOTRG is indeed cis, I don’t see a problem with him expressing some preference between “cis” and “assigned male at birth (and identify as male).” Both of those are composed of well-known non-offensive terminology. I think the trans community would have to weigh in on “not trans” just because I haven’t seen that used.

“Assigned male at birth (and identify as male)” would probably raise some eyebrows just because it seems like a mouthful to intentionally avoid the accepted “cis” terminology and raises the specter that MOTRG would refuse to properly gender trans people, etc. But if he explained that “Cis” was the nickname of his beloved dead sister or something, then I’m sure people would be cool with it.

But if he wants to use “straight” to mean “cis”, that’s both confusing, and erases some identities. (There are bi and gay and a/demi sexual/romantic trans people, and gay cis people). So that’s not OK in my opinion.

And there are all kinds of other ways to identify oneself that are obviously not OK, such as “Not a *****” (choose the epithet of your choice).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

In this case, someone is asking that a label they don’t like not be attached to their identity, so it doesn’t seem like the edge cases you offered (which I agree with you on) apply (the conflation between “straight” and “not-trans” not withstanding). There may be specific times when it is necessary to separate trans-men from cis-men in order to speak clearly, but in general people should control their identity, and not have it imposed by others.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I think the wider problem that I have with this general concept (not sure if MOTRG is an example or not) is that some cis folks don’t want *any* descriptor used to talk about their cis-ness. Whether they mean it or not, this leaves the categories as: trans people, and other people. This marks cis as “normal” and ends up making trans people the “other.” To be truly welcoming to trans people, we need to be able to talk about cis people too.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

True, but most of the time, when we don’t have a specific need to differentiate between trans and cis, we probably shouldn’t. I’m guessing that MOTRG doesn’t want to be called a cis-anything as a general identifier, but wouldn’t object if it were specifically required by the conversation (and, if we were being sensitive to their expressed desires, we might choose a different descriptor that served the same purpose, even if, for a brief moment, it seemed more cumbersome). That seems different than erasure.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Cis does not “literally” mean “not trans”. It means “born as”. Get your terms right.

It’s convenient to have a descriptor for people who were born with the same sex they identify as. Would you prefer we said “not trans” instead?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Literally, it does mean “not trans”. The latin word means “on the same side”. When the term migrated from science to gender discussions, it roughly kept its meaning as “biological sex” and “gender identity” being “on the same side”. It has to do with alignment, regardless of what gender one was “born as”.

Lauren
Guest

I am ok with this. Trans is a descriptive word, cis is a descriptive word. Tall is descriptive. White is descriptive. I am a tall, white, cis woman who cycles a lot. Yeah. I’m a member of at least one “oppressor” class.

Maria
Guest
Maria

(RANT ALERT)
I am still ON FIRE from the comment thread from the previous Bike Portland article where haters of many ilks came out of the woodwork. The comment and sentiment that most offended me is “women are the weaker sex”. Men have had the privilege of athletic upbringings and males are the ones who’ve defined these mainstream accepted measurements of strength.
I call BS. I am strong. I am a woman. Women are strong, that includes my trans sisters – not because they may have been born with a dingaling – but for many other reasons (like having to stand up to bullies regularly). I am strong enough to compete with anyone and I am strong enough to not live in fear of losing to anyone (woman, trans, man). Unfortunately, as a female of the species, I am not allowed to compete in every race (Tour de France – please don’t remind me there’s a female tour, I know but it’s not the same and doesn’t get the same audience or $).
Let’s compete as humans and see who rises to the top.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Generally competitive events try to group racers by 3 methods – skill, age, and gender so that a wide range of competitors feel like they have a chance to do well against people of similar speed. The reason is that over centuries results have generally shown that a 10 year old or 60 year old is not going to do as well as a 25 year old. Also generally an experienced racer will do better than a first time race. Finally people that are born genetic men are faster than people born genetic women. If you take the most capable 10 year old, 60 year old, and 25 year old and have each of them train as hard as they can all year the 25 year old will crush the 10 year old and 60 year old. The same goes for men and women. I once again go to OBRA results. Take a look at the largest mountain bike race in the state – the Sisters Stampede. The pro women, pro men, and category 2 men (category 2 is a mid skill category – 2 levels below a pro/elite) age 60+ all do the same distance. The first pro man finished in 1 hour 35 minutes, the first pro woman in 1 hour 49 minutes, and the first category 2 60+ man in 1 hour 51 minutes. The first pro women, Serena does national level and international races.

At the elite level when someone who was born genetically male and has transitioned to female the International Olympic Committee says that they must take various hormones to reduce their testosterone level. There is debate over what the level of testosterone trans athletes should be limited to and the level has changed over time and is different for different sports. Wired magazine has a pretty balanced article on some of the ethical and medical issues involved and some proposals for making sports fair. Once again I would say that simple answers are not easy to find.

https://www.wired.com/story/the-glorious-victories-of-trans-athletes-are-shaking-up-sports/

Manville
Guest
Manville

You are allowed to compete in the Tour de France. You’re probably just not fast enough. As a woman, you can compete in the NBA, NFL or MLB if you are good enough. The opportunities are there for you. Go get’em

JP
Guest
JP

Username checks out.

Glenn II
Guest
Glenn II

At first I was glad the board decided to give a valued member another chance, but the more this lady talks, the more I see her critics’ point.

chillywilly
Guest
chillywilly

Biological men should not be able to steal medals from women.

No. No. No.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

“Separate but equal is inherently unjust,”

Isn’t this an argument to abolish all women’s sports?

9watts
Subscriber

Why would you conclude that? If that was your interpretation, why couldn’t you imagine abolishing the men’s category?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Chris I clearly means getting rid of sex-based divisions in sport, and having everyone compete together, exactly what Maria said above. So yes, that would involve getting rid of men’s divisions.

Manville
Guest
Manville

If we got rid of women’s categories would women complain that they are not in the spotlight if they aren’t winning; there is a high probability they wouldn’t be winning? In running, where they do compete together, races are going the opposite way where they are separating the races based on sex. This allows women the spotlight; I prefer that.

Bike Person
Guest
Bike Person

If testosterone is what matters, perhaps we should just stop using gender as a proxy. We would just have divisions defined by testosterone ranges and people of all genders could compete in whichever category they fall into.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’d be happy to compete in the “Mid-Testes” category. “testosterone” is just too long of a word, so I think we’d want to shorten it.

Low-Testes
Mid-Testes
High-Testes

Stacy W
Guest
Stacy W

The decrease in women’s race participation has nothing to do with trans athletes, and started over a decade ago in Oregon. Likewise, there’s a decline in men’s race participation. Are trans athletes to blame for a nationwide lack of interest in cycling and bike racing? That’s preposterous. Women just aren’t as interested in racing as they once were, and their barriers have to do with access, awareness, work commitments, family life, and all the usual gender roles garbage that keeps women from participating in sports as adults. Blaming trans athletes is both cowardly and false.

There’s no bravery in coming out against trans women in sports, it’s transphobia plain and simple. One woman isn’t all woman, and all women aren’t against trans athletes in women’s race categories. Because trans women are women.

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Rachel Cameron
Equal rights for trans women doesn’t mean less rights for cis women. Calm down.Recommended 8

But that’s exactly what it means, when they are denied prizes, scholarships, etc. to ‘trans women.

You can’t have it both ways.

Stacy W
Guest
Stacy W

Trans women are women. It’s not having things both ways when women are women. You should talk to some trans women about competing some time, and hear from them that it’s not a cake walk and that they aren’t dominant. I’ve raced against trans women in the past, and some days I win, some days they win. Which is exactly how any bike race goes.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Well, I suppose that anyone who wants to win will just have to pedal faster.

Hazel Light
Guest
Hazel Light

No athlete, whether cis or trans, has a ‘right’ to either of the things you listed. What all people, whether cis or trans, have a right to is a right to compete in athletics. The whole point of athletic competition is that no person is guaranteed the result of a competition or the benefits that can derive from those victories.

Furthermore, when you exclude trans people from competing in men’s or women’s categories in sports, you functionally exclude us from participating in sports as a whole. This is deeply wrong.

Matt Case
Guest
Matt Case

Bike Guy. Prove it. Prove that trans athletes are taking away prizes and scholarships. I’ll wait.

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

Matt Case
Bike Guy. Prove it. Prove that trans athletes are taking away prizes and scholarships. I’ll wait.

https://www.adflegal.org/selina-soule-track-athlete-story

Well that only took 5 minutes.

soren
Guest
soren

I just want to point out that the dude who anointed himself as defender of women’s rights above linked to a virulently christianist hate group that views abortion as murder, advocates for the criminalization of homosexuality (even supporting laws that make it punishable by death), and advocates for forced sterilization of transgender people:

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/07/27/anti-lgbt-hate-group-alliance-defending-freedom-defended-state-enforced-sterilization

https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2004-church-state/featured/the-adfs-reconstructionist-ties

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

soren
I just want to point out that the dude who anointed himself as defender of women’s rights above linked to a virulently christianist hate group that views abortion as murder… blah blah blah

Soren, the argumentative style you’re attempting to use here is fundamentally dishonest. You won’t dispute the factual content of the article, you’d rather impugn the source. Such ad-hominem attacks are a hallmark of people who can’t defend their thinking. For the record I’ve never even heard of this organization before, I just took the first link in google. Here’s a link from wapo that has basically the same factual content:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Secondly, citing the SPLC as an authoritative source is laughable. The SPLC are direct mail hucksters, the Jim and Tammy Fae of white liberal guilt. Jim n’ Tammy had “Satan”, the SPLC has “hate”, and they see it everywhere. Wash away your sins, send us a check today!

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

The facts of the transphobic article that’s linked above is that two girls won, and had they not won then the next two girls would’ve ranked higher. That’s always true of competitive sports though.
The problem with folks who “just google it” is that there are a variety of opinions readily available, and the “facts” they use to support their beliefs are also hit or miss. Being able to find an article that says trans women are usurping trophies, scholarships, etc. is easy if you buy into the premise that trans women aren’t women. If you do understand that trans women are women, it would be impossible to find such an example.
This topic btw isn’t about men racing against women, I don’t know why that keeps coming up – please stay on topic!

BradWagon
Subscriber

So you are saying trans and cis women are not different, they are all just “women”? Sorry but there needs to be a practical way to ensure trans women competing in women categories are doing so under the UCI, IOC, OBRA, etc… guidelines. That’s why this topic even exists, because there IS a practical difference and while we obviously shouldn’t discriminate based on that difference it can’t just be ignored. Opinions like yours on the far end of the spectrum are why people like Inga still have supporters and why labeling outspoken voices as rad femmes takes hold among those not paying closer attention.

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

Trans women and cis women are different and at the same time they’re both women, just like tall women and short women are different and still women.
There is a practical way to ensure all women competing in the women’s category are doing so under UCI, IOC, and OBRA rules (not guidelines), and it’s already in place. Is it perfect? Perhaps not, but most folks here aren’t talking about the rules as they’re written, they’re talking about their feelings about men and women. The IOC is resourced enough to have done their homework before creating rules regarding participation. OBRA on the other hand has made a decision to keep a transphobe on the board *before* engaging in Diversity Equity and Inclusion training, and educating themselves around trans issues.
Also, it was Inga who labeled those with a different opinion than hers “rad femmes.” The irony is that she herself aligns with TERFs (also a misnomer as they aren’t feminists, but that’s another discussion altogether). I’ll take her label though since I am femme and pretty rad. 🙂

BradWagon
Subscriber

I was referring to Inga using the term Rad Femmes.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Satire.

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

https://www.thenation.com/article/king-hate-business/

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-reckoning-of-morris-dees-and-the-southern-poverty-law-center?verso=true

Hopefully these sources are acceptable enough to you. I don’t think any leftists could impugn them, but who knows anymore given that even Obama is attacked as “conservative” these days. The original Ken Silverstein article, “The Church of Morris Dees” from 2000 is fantastic as well, but it’s behind a paywall.

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

Ad Homini?

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

Just want to underscore that “prizes, scholarships, etc.” are not the same as “rights”.

If more people sign up for my race, then yes I’m less likely to win, regardless of the cis/trans status of the additional racers. It’s not a loss of rights; it’s just changing odds.

You can’t have it both ways.

Manville
Guest
Manville

What a ridiculous statement … it’s all about odd? I’m almost sure that if the top 15 men in the Gent-Welvelgam were to race in the women’s version “odds” would have very little to do with the outcome. People, we need to start being honest with ourselves; men have a huge physical advantage in athletics.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

If you’re trying to out-ridiculous me, well done.

Matt Case
Guest
Matt Case

An article by an organization designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the SPLC. Solid Googling.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Hit me up if you wanna join my new bike racing team, The Rad Femmes.

9watts
Subscriber

It is an especially clever name because the first word is German for bike. 😉
Fahrrad = bicycle
Rad = bike

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Radical individualism

Jon
Guest
Jon

Name calling by both sides does not solve anything. At the Tabor cyclocross world championships the top elite man averaged 8:36 per lap. the top elite woman 9:46. The top woman would not even be on the lead lap of a combined race. There is some difference between folks born male and those born female. To say we are equal is not true. I can understand how cis-gendered women would not feel like they were on a level playing field with trans gendered women. Just hoping it is fair does not make it fair. There is no way I would believe that anyone would change gender so they could win a competition and I believe entirely that trans women are women. How to incorporate trans women into competition in a fair way is complicated and reasonable people can come to different opinions. Clearly Inga feels differently from Rachel. People that agree with Inga are not trans-phobic or bigots, they have a different opinion. Don’t fall for the name calling and demonizing.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

I agree men are usually faster than women. But that’s not what we are talking about.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

There is a lot more to Jon’s comment than “quien es mas rapidx”. Is any of the rest of it what we’re talking about? Can we at least agree that the discussion was started because of an OBRA board member’s concern about the fairness of biological females competing against biological males? Maybe we’re talking about that person’s approach being off-putting and seemingly “trans-phobic”, but the subject of inherent fairness in longstanding competitive divisions, be they age-based or gender-based, is going to come up.

My question is whether Inga’s only faux pas was her language/tactics, or is her whole premise that sports competition between biological males and biological females puts the females at a disadvantage flawed?

Cyclekrieg
Subscriber
Cyclekrieg

Yet we are. Persons born male and who go thru puberty with male hormones will take on certain traits. Even if they later remove some of these traits, we don’t have the technology remove/reprogram all of them. Increased bone structure and muscle mass (or more accurately, the potential for) will continue to exist. An athlete who is a male athlete and transitions to female athlete will have more muscle mass than woman of the same dimensions. Yes, hormone blocking and/or estrogen injections will change this and will cause some potential for loss. But the start point for that mass and power is higher than a woman to begin with.

Personally, I disagree with Ms. Thompson’s verbiage and find it icky. But what she is advocating for is a framework (3rd gender) that she believes is more fair to biological females. (I used “biological females” on purpose as not all those whose sex is female fit into cis- gender norms and not to denigrate trans persons, as some do.) Whether that (a 3rd gender) is the correct response to the biological realities is debatable. Historically and culturally, that is how other cultures, past and present, have dealt with such questions of gender and its intersection with society.

Reasonable people can reasonably disagree on many topics. On a topic like this that combines fairness, social norms, gender, biology and empathy, there might much disagreement. Ms. Thompson (nor anyone else) doesn’t deserve to be to relegated to the level of subhuman because their opinion doesn’t fit into the bleeding edge wokeness that some might desire. Concepts and people evolve. Maybe you and Ms. Thompson should go out for some coffee sometime and you can help her evolve. Maybe be the Daryl Davis in this situation. Who knows, you might find its more effective than trying to blacklist her or call her a bunch of names.

Gunther
Guest
Gunther

Still waiting for Hazel, Rachel and the rest to formally apologize for that false accusation hit list. You should be ashamed. You have all lost any credibility whatsoever from everyone in the OBRA community.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

No idea what ya talking about, but ok.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Still waiting for “Gunther” to tell me what “hit list” I appparently created. Literally fascinated right now. Come on, bud, I can’t wait all night.

Jennifer Haliewicz
Guest
Jennifer Haliewicz

If you are talking about what I think you are talking about, calling this a hit list is a joke. The only suggested violence that has occurred was when someone posted the names of people in a private community – one whose sole existence was to protect other WTFNB individuals in the cycling+ community – with the hopes of inciting some sort of anger or rage against them. Also, last time I checked, I wasn’t waiting for your respect, whoever you are. I can probably also guess Rachel and Hazel aren’t either. 😉

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Anyone can use a burner email address to “leak” a list and then attach names of random people active in the feminist bike scene as the “authors” without so much as a shred of evidence. Classic scare tactic meant to silence us. You’ll get no apology from me. In fact, you should apologize to all of us for perpetuating this scare tactic.

A hit list. Hilarious. As if I have time.

Annie
Guest
Annie

Has anyone even noticed that author of this article made a correction? Inga did not write the article The majority of the quotes were by the author of Save Women’s Sports. Inga has a quote, but this is not her article. I fear this is more of the smear campaign, say she wrote an inflammatory article that she didn’t write, tell people that she is part of a group that she is not, start lies, tell a reporter, he prints it without checking the facts…..what a bunch of lemmings….

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Who cares if Inga wrote the article? She should have been removed purely on conflict of interest and acting in a way unbecoming to a board member.

David Hampsten
Guest

I have no strong views on this subject, but as a person who has served on many boards, I see no grounds to remove her unless she has a substantial financial interest on this or other issues that OBRA deals with and hasn’t declared those interests. If she has bias, then welcome to the human race, we all do – but that’s legally protected under free speech.

Emily johnson
Guest
Emily johnson

OBRA is not a governmental body and the first amendment does not apply. It is completely reasonable to expect the board to oust other board members when their values do not align with the values of the organization. Unfortunately it looks like OBRA has decided that trans racers do not matter.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Or maybe that that their priority is bike races.

Jason Gunther
Guest
Jason Gunther

Great article!

meh
Guest
meh

If there is no physiological difference between XX and XY chromosomed beings, then we should be able to find an XX chromosomed athlete who has transitioned and competes against XY chromosomed athletes and is winning regularly because of their training.

Except this is only happening with XY chromosomed beings who choose to transition and compete against XX chromosomed athletes.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

If there’s anyone claiming there’s no physiological difference, that segment of people is negligible. The fact that trans women is on average taller than cis women is well known, for example. What many people *are* claiming is that, under hormone therapy, the range of athletic performance of trans women is similar to the range of athletic performance of cis women.

Also, yes, there are trans male athletes at high levels. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Mosier

Meh
Guest
Meh

Didn’t say there weren’t any trans men competing, but they aren’t winning or setting records in any way near those who transition to female.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

1) I haven’t done enough research to know if trans male athletes do less well, on average, than trans female athletes do, relative to their cis peers.

2) Even if this is true, it’s not necessarily physiological. For example, it’s generally true that men commit much more violence than women. So, it’s reasonable to wonder whether direct, physically threatening bullying by teammates and competitors is stronger against trans male athletes than trans female athletes, and how much impact that might have on the number, training, and opportunities of trans male athletes.

3) Even there is a physiological advantage for trans women on average compared to cis women in a given sport, and/or a physiological disadvantage for trans men compared to cis men in a given sport, that’s not a direct argument to separate but equal/whatever your preferred solution is, by a long shot. Given that trans people in general are a very oppressed minority, it makes sense to me be OK with some physiological difference in order to foster inclusion. There are lots of other physiological differences within the female population that cause some people to be better at some sports and others to be worse. If this physiological advantage indeed exists, it would be one among many.

Also, I recommend using the accepted, mainstream, non-stilted language of “trans and cis men” and “trans and cis women” rather than ” XX and XY chromosomed beings.” I’m not trans, so I’m not sure how your language sounds to a trans person. I suspect that it sounds like you’re not accepting their identity and intentionally avoiding referring to them as the gender that they are.

soren
Guest
soren
Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I just want to note – language matters. It seems like Inga has spent a good deal of time and energy on this topic. Given that she has apparently done so, if she wanted to be taken seriously as someone who has a legitimate concern not colored by bias, she should have learned more about respectful ways to talk about transgender people. I’m a gay man who has absorbed various things from consuming queer media, and not an expert on language around transgender people. But I know darn well that the respectful way to talk about transgender people is to say “transgender people” not “transgenders.”

I think the reason for this is analogous to the reason that it’s disrespectful to talk about “the blacks” or “the gays.” Using identity words as an adjective (“black people” “gay men” “trans women”) implies a perspective in which people are people first. Using them as nouns (“the gays” “the blacks” “the transgenders”) implies a perspective that being gay, black, or transgender means someone is “other” first and not necessarily human first. That’s how I feel about it, at least.

http://www.basicrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Trans-Media-Reference.pdf

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

People can also choose how to react to what they hear.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Depends on which kind of “react” you’re talking about. As to what people physically do or say in response, sure, that’s clearly a choice. As to how people immediately feel when spoken about in a given way, it seems a lot murkier to me if you’re gonna try to claim that’s a choice.

Regardless of whether one can or can’t choose to feel hurt or othered when referred to as “a gay” or “a black” or “a transgender”, plenty of people in those (and other) categories do feel hurt or othered, and for good reason, when disrespectful language is used. I think that’s enough justification on its own to ask people to use the easily available respectful language.

Society changes and evolves. When a new identity that people weren’t aware of before comes to their attention, people have the choice to google “respectful language [whatever identity]” and find out. They should make that choice and use that language. To put the onus on the minority to not feel annoyed/othered by ignorant language choices is wrong.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

Thanks, Alex. That language jumped out at me in the same way. To me it actually sounds like an intentionally dismissive or denigrating term.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Yeah, that’s definitely a possibility. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt – which is sometimes more benefit than they deserve.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Agreed, it sounds like she’s consistently referring to people using “transgender” as a noun rather than an adjective. That’s no more okay than calling someone “a black” or “a gay”. That’s dehumanizing use of language and itself a pretty strong indicator of bias, whether the speaker realizes it or not.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Is it ok to call people “a driver” or “a cyclist”?

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Not nearly as big a deal as calling someone “a transgender.”

Still something I try to avoid.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

“Drive” and “cycle” are both verbs, so adding an “er” is a sensible way to refer to someone performing one of those actions. “Transgender” is an adjective, as is “gay”, and both words are as a rule used to describe people. In my opinion, the effect of omitting the word “person” after either of those descriptors is uncoincidentally dehumanizing.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

“Driver” in the moment, yes, absolutely. When applied as a term of identity, not as much, especially when accompanied by a blanket and usually disparaging statement.

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

Drivers drive, transgender folks don’t “transgender.” I also love when an ‘ed’ is added to the end of transgender, as though trans people are being “transgendered.”
If you understand that trans women are women, replace “transgender”/“trans person”/“XY (or) XX” with woman, or athlete, or cyclist – and the implicit bias becomes explicit.
Using thoughtful language does matter, but working to support, defend, and uplift (trans) folks matters just as much, if not more, imo.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I want to be ultra clear that I am not defending the use of “transgender” as a noun. I understand why it is offensive.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

I more or less agree, to the extent that I don’t love using “driver” and “cyclist” as sweeping identifiers.

But I find those terms less troubling than referring to “transgenders”, which – at best – strikes me as going out of one’s way to avoid using language that’s actually being used by transgender people and that they’re more likely to be comfortable with. In my opinion, not a great way to facilitate open discussion.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

“We strive to create an environment in which everyone feels valued and respected.”

Unless our opinion differs from yours, in which case we don’t respect you and will start an online petition to have you removed.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

I started the petition, not OBRA.

I don’t feel the need to respect “opinions” that dehumanize my friends.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Comment deleted by moderator.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Welp, hopefully Jonathan deletes that one cause yikes

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

El Biciclero
Literally, it does mean “not trans”. The latin word means “on the same side”. When the term migrated from science to gender discussions, it roughly kept its meaning as “biological sex” and “gender identity” being “on the same side”. It has to do with alignment, regardless of what gender one was “born as”.

This strikes me as a factually accurate account of the prefixes “cis” and “trans”, but the whole focus of the argument is a red-herring.

I believe that dogs are people too, thus it follows that, in my framing, my dog is a “trans-human” and you are a “cis-human”. I’m perfectly happy to argue about the prefixes all day long if it means that my central assertion, namely that “dogs are people too” is never challenged.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

The only difference being that you are deciding things on behalf of your dog. Now, I’ve met plenty of dogs that by their behavior appear to identify as human, but can we ever know for sure?

dan
Guest
dan

Ah, a philosopher! 🙂

In the absence of intelligible speech, I suppose we should rely on their non-verbal communication.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Ah yes, comparing trans people to dogs. Excellent. How thought provoking.

One
Guest

OBRA is on the wrong side of history. Remove racists, bigots, homophobes, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. I took my OBRA sticker off of my bike box and off of my car today.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Your car is destroying the planet.

One
Guest

Chris I- you are correct. Thank you for your comment.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Which side of history are you on when it comes to climate change?

One
Guest

Chris I. You are correct. Thank you for your comment.

DC
Subscriber

Jonathan – great interviews! I look forward to seeing more interviews from you across all topics on this site. This had good questions, and a well-written article covering them!

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

I spent the 1990s as a leader in the Madison, Wisconsin LGB rights movement. I don’t have any interest in organized sports, but the similarities between this discussion and ones we had in 1992 at the height of the AIDS crises are striking. Gay team leagues developed in some sports as a result of homophobic discussions about locker room “looks” that would make “mainstream men” uncomfortable. More disturbing was the HIV homophobia and the fear in organized sports that an accident could “contaminate clean athletes.” There were discussions of teams having special locker rooms at schools. Of course this was not practical and we succeeded in blocking any attempts until society caught up.

I do not know the solution as competitive sports etiquette escapes me, but I understand discrimination. Transphobia, and the lack of understanding of the gender spectrum, pervades this entire discussion at every step of the way.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I remember those years. It should be noted that among wider community there was a feeling of existential threat that likely fed the moral panic you describe; until it became clear how AIDS was spread (and, more importantly, how it wasn’t), there was a sense that anyone could get what was at the time a random death sentence, and to a degree, it was rational to be irrational. (I am sure that fear was even more intense in the gay community.)

People who didn’t grow up in that era have a hard time understanding what it was like. I like to think that the whole crisis ultimately made us stronger as a society, but it was a painful road to get there.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

It’s easy to believe that’s the reason.
Except when you notice that virtually no one is complaining about trans men in sports. Of course, trans men in sports really isn’t a thing. Funny how that works.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

The jury is totally still out on whether/how much trans men/women have an advantage/disadvantage over cis men/women on which sports. Actual research is what will give answers on this. The research so far doesn’t find much daylight between cis & trans but I’ll note that there isn’t much research and it’s really hard research to do.

And, correlation doesn’t equal causation. Bigotry/bullying/assault/social isolation/etc. are things that may potentially impact trans male athletes more than trans female athletes.

Skid
Guest
Skid

So these “radical feminists”, are they Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists [TERFs]?
Inga Thompson would fit right in with them.

GNnorth
Guest
GNnorth

I’m not a fan of Inga’s POV on this at all, but willingly re-upped with OBRA for 2020 just now. Kenlan is doing a great job and it takes guts from a board to try and represent all sides of this w/o bouncing members out. Heck, I am always at the bottom the rankings but that’s the way it goes due to serious injury back in the early part of the decade.

They really tried in 2018 and 2019 to put on a serious effort at more racing for women, but sadly the number of participants isn’t there on the road side. In fact road racing itself has taken a huge plunge. Thank you Jonathan for covering this and so many other aspects of OBRA consistently, may not agree with everything you put her but BP sure is damn good at trying to.

LW
Guest
LW

I found the following article extremely helpful in understanding what it means for the future of women’s sports to include XY individuals in competitions designated for XX individuals. It has nothing to do with gender but rather the biological difference between individuals who have testes (especially during puberty) and those who don’t.

It’s a very long read and some may find the first paragraph off-putting because it starts with a review of a recent ruling by the IAAF regarding what levels of testosterone are allowed in athletes competing in the female divisions at the Olympics and IAAF events. But it is well worth the read in terms of understanding why women’s divisions were created in the first place and what it will mean if we decide to define the women’s category by gender as opposed to sex.

https://quillette.com/2019/05/03/a-victory-for-female-athletes-everywhere/

If you don’t want to read the article, at least check out this graphic which compares the lifetime bests of 3 female Gold medalists vs the best times for boys and men in a single year.

comment image

The XX Olympic Gold Medalist individuals get absolutely buried in a sea of faster times by men and boys. They aren’t even close to the fastest XY individuals. This isn’t an insult to XX individuals (I’m one of them), it’s just a biological fact and the main reason we have a separate category for people who don’t have testes.

I hope this won’t be viewed as me attacking anyone. I’m all for supporting the LGBTQ community (I’m one of them). But I do think it’s important to fully understand why some people are asking for careful consideration on what our decisions will mean for XX individuals.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Wow, that’s a long opinion piece. Also, Caster Semenya isn’t trans.

LW
Guest
LW

You are right, she isn’t. But she is a “46, XY” individual who has competed in divisions created for XX individuals with testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L. I think it’s important to consider the complete picture when discussing the women’s category and the possible effects it will have on XX individuals.

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

Caster aside, her levels are naturally occuring. Are we penalizing all athletes who have a competitive edge? Michael Phelps only produces half the lactic acid of his competitors. Is that fair? Should Caster and Phelps have their own categories and only compete against others with the exact same characteristics? No. Because they would be the only person in that category and that is essentially banning them from sports altogether.

Anyway, within a few months of hormone suppressants, a trans woman could be well below the 5nmol/L threshold. Usually significantly lower, like, undetectable.

JP
Guest
JP

I wish this was discussed more in the context of trans athletes. People act like other than gender, sport is a level playing field. It is absolutely not! Elite athletes ALL have physiological advantages. It’s not fair, but it’s something we accept in all other aspects of sport. It’s only ever a problem for an athlete to have a physiological difference from the norm when that difference intersects with gender. It’s hypocritical and stupdi.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I do think this topic bears serious discussion. However, the info you bring to bear doesn’t seem relevant, at least to the OBRA discussion, given the IOC/OBRA rules requiring hormone therapy for trans female athletes. (Also I suggest using the common cis/trans language rather than chromosomal language).

Trans women using hormone therapy are a different category than men. The research to date that I’ve seen seems sufficient to definitively say that in the sports/areas researched, trans women do not perform as well as cis men. In general, they perform similarly to cis women. More research would be good.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357259/

Now, “similarly” is not “the same.” There may well be an advantage (or a disadvantage) to being a trans woman rather than a cis woman in any given sport. If in some sport, that advantage/disadvantage is found to be overwhelming, then maybe there’s a case to be made for some sort of different policy than the current policies. But AFAIK we’re really far away from finding an overwhelming advantage/disadvantage in any sport. Including trans athletes in with cis athletes of the same gender seems like the obvious choice to me given the info we know so far.

LW
Guest
LW

Yes, you are right that my focus is more on collegiate, national, and international competition. I just thought folks might be interested in the article as it relates to women’s sports. The reason I chose to refer to chromosomal language is that’s how it’s defined legally for women’s sports. As a runner I went through the chromosomal testing when competing internationally.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

It seems to me that your data about cis men vs. cis women is most relevant to high school sports, where many jurisdictions are allowing trans youth to compete with no hormone therapy.

Madi Carlson (Family Biking Columnist)
Editor

Trans women are women.

shinjuki
Guest
shinjuki

I’ll chime in to say this – Thompson’s language (“transgenders”) makes her come across as a transphobe, to put it mildly. Regrettably, I think she’s also correct.

To put transwomen and ciswomen together in a competition greatly disadvantages the ciswomen. Being born in an XY body comes along with differences in strength and stature that, to my knowledge, hormone therapy does not completely erase. I’m pretty sure her “most controversial” quote up there is straight-up fact: If transwomen are allowed to compete without restriction in women’s sports, ciswomen will no longer be able to medal. With no chance of medaling from the get-go, will ciswomen still choose to compete? And if roughly 98% of potential participants are discouraged from competing, will we still have women’s sports competitions in any meaningful sense?

When I consider these sort of social issues, I lean towards “who is most harmed?” For almost all hot-button trans issues, without questions, the trans community is most harmed (bathrooms, pronouns, insurance covering transition, etc). This is a rare instance of a trans issue where the cisgendered population is the one which would be most harmed/disadvantaged.

If I may be blunt – isn’t there a direct conflict of interest between Inga Thompson and the trans individuals who signed this position, such as Dr. Rachel McKinnon? If Dr. McKinnon and Thompson went forward to compete in the women’s cycling race, assuming equal age/training, Dr. McKinnon would almost certainly take home the medal–possibly even under the current hormone requirements, which are themselves under development, with many unknown factors. Thompson may be an ass, but this issue is existential for the competitive sport she loves, and for herself and younger women like herself’s future participation. And yes, there’s a legitimate question as to whether Dr. McKinnon’s active participation in women’s sports is actually a benefit to the institution of competitive women’s sports.

Thompson is trying (crassly) to keep the field open for cisgendered candidates, by creating a separate race for the trans population to compete in. I’m not sure that’s the right answer – separate but equal doesn’t have a great track record. But the alternative is either a ban on trans participation, or staggering forward under the developing hormone requirements of the existing system. No easy answer is forthcoming. Discussions will need to continue, with an eye to the rights of all women athletes.

I wrote this whole essay here because I know that Portland, to its credit, cares deeply about trans rights as human rights, generally upholding the activist view on all trans issues without question. But sometimes, there need to be questions. I support OBRA’s decision to keep Thompson on their board. She can be outvoted, if necessary, but her voice should still be heard.

Best of luck to the women’s competitive cycling community going forward; I hope smarter people than I can thread this particular needle.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

You start by assuming something as a fact that is not a fact: “If transwomen are allowed to compete without restriction in women’s sports, ciswomen will no longer be able to medal.”

The available research indicates that the range of trans woman athletic performance is similar to the range of cis woman athletic performance. Not the same, but similar. Perhaps future research will complicate this, but for now, this appears to be what we know.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5357259/

dan
Guest
dan

The linked article says “Currently, there is no direct or consistent research suggesting transgender female individuals (or male individuals) have an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition (e.g. cross-sex hormones, gender-confirming surgery) and, therefore, competitive sport policies that place restrictions on transgender people need to be considered and potentially revised.”

That’s a little different from “research shows transgender female athletes do not have an athletic advantage,” and it’s not clear to me if they intend to state the research simply hasn’t been done, or in fact the research has been done and it shows no advantage for transgender female athletes.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

All I was saying was, the current research doesn’t find any consistent advantage, and certainly not an overwhelming one. Given that, “If transwomen are allowed to compete without restriction in women’s sports, ciswomen will no longer be able to medal.” is not a fact. I would guess that there is a small percentage chance that it ends up being true, at the highest levels where one has to have a whole array of advantages to medal, for maybe some sports. But if that ends up being true, we sure don’t know it now. Hence it is not a fact, and making policy based on that assumption is unwise.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I should be adding “statistically significant” everywhere when talking about research. The current research doesn’t find a statistically significant advantage in the sports and situations studied. This leads me to believe that the existence of an overwhelming advantage in the sports studied, and in similar sports, is very unlikely.

soren
Guest
soren

When the there is no evidence of a significant difference or the data is inconsistent, the science-based way to look at a question is to state that there is no evidence or that the research is inconsistent.

The sentence you constructed (“research shows transgender female athletes do not have an athletic advantage”) is by definition an opinion, not a science-based statement.

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Very thoughtful comment Shinjuki; thank you.

David
Guest
David

shinjuki, you make a good statement/conclusion. This is going on biology from Thompson’s proposal. All of us have the right to compete in sport but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to race in any category you want. There are offerings for everyone from juniors to amateurs and masters to the pros/elites and open and women. Different categories. None of them are ‘less judged’ or labeled ‘better’. This subject needs more research, it needs further discussion after the research. It will not be solved today or in the very near future. I want EVERYONE to be able to be play! I have not seen any evidence of Thompson saying one gender was less deserving or less equal over another or being transphobic. I have seen other comments where if anyone has a different opinion, they are labeled as ‘transphobic’ and become a hate target and this is not right. Respect their opinion and reply with further questions or share research. I have seen some good replies here from a few.

GNnorth
Guest
GNnorth

Thank you for pointing out the myriad of categories available to each respective group. Often cat’s get placed in one field since some have only one or two participants at any given race. Next thing you know there’s a woman racing alongside, or a junior, or an old geezer like myself who’s even older. I remember kickin’ butt over quite a few racers in the Spring Thaw a few years back on the first climb, but it was so cold on the flat section to Four Corners my inclination was to slow down and ride no-hands for a few miles. Next thing I know the sixty year old woman catches me, and then proceeds to kick my ass and I gave chase but then waved goodbye and was impressed and told her so since we rode for about half a mile with each other. All of us started together in Lithia Park but we certainly didn’t finish as a pack, and for her she had to race on a geared bike because her SS was in the shop for repairs.

So I’m not sure what’s wrong about having different categories, is it really discrimination then? Asking is OK, getting labeled “transphobic” or anythinng else is just someone else’s way of feeling they have a moral high ground. The results speak for themselves.

Rudi V
Guest
Rudi V

Rachel Cameron
Ah yes, comparing trans people to dogs. Excellent. How thought provoking.

Sigh… I knew somebody would go there as I was writing it. What is it about this leftist argumentative style wherein you straw-man everything? Gleefully discarding the challenging part of any argument in favor of the most willfully wrong and uncharitable interpretation makes you seem dishonest and stupid.

I never once compared trans people to dogs, you made that leap all on your own cuz you thought you could score virtue points by disavowing it.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Congrats to an organization that allows for differing viewpoints.
If we can’t have differing views and discuss our differing views then how can we expect an organization to grow.

JP
Guest
JP

Yes, bothsidesism has definitely been a great thing in our society. Well done, OBRA, for seeing the very fine people on both sides here. /s

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This idea that there is more than one way of looking at an issue is such a tired trope. We’d be much better off if we could just silence/intimidate/cancel people who haven’t embraced the latest orthodoxy.

Jon
Guest
Jon

After seeing the general level of discussion here and other places I can see why a cisgender woman might be very reluctant to express any objection to racing against transgender athletes. I can also see how trans athletes might be reluctant to identify themselves as trans. The actual science behind athletic performance is mostly ignored and a few loud voices are just calling each other names and demonizing each other. It is very sad to see.

soren
Guest
soren

“The actual science behind athletic performance…”

A vague appeal to authority is also a common form of internet/social media flaming and concern trolling.

1) What scientific literature are you referring too?

2) What makes you qualified to make authoritative claims about this literature?

3) How does the scientific literature relate to the comments here that you find objectionable?

Liz
Guest
Liz

Trans women are women are women are women are women

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

All the monstrous problems on planet Earth and folk are inflamed about bicycle racing?

Rachel Cameron
Subscriber
Rachel Cameron

And yet here you are.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Just received an email from OBRA that Inga has resigned from their board of directors.