At the recent Illinois State Cyclocross Championships held on December 3, transgender women Tessa Johnson and Evelyn Williamson secured the top two places in the Women’s Singlespeed category. This outcome has ignited a heated debate among advocates for women’s sports, with critics arguing that it disadvantages biological female competitors.
The championships featured a range of competitions across men’s, women’s, and junior athlete categories. In the Women’s Singlespeed race, Johnson and Williamson, who are biologically male, outperformed their competitors, including Kristin Chalmers, the only biological female on the podium, Reduxx reported.
The incident quickly became a topic of intense discussion on social media, with high-profile figures like Megyn Kelly, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, and Piers Morgan expressing frustration and concern over the implications for women’s sports.
Navratilova criticized the situation as “more mediocre male bodies taking podium places from female athletes,” while Morgan questioned the lack of widespread objection from women to this “assault on their rights.”
Two men take 1st & 2nd at the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships yesterday. @usacycling has 2 categories for men and none for women
Any woman who concedes and doesn’t compete, I will personally pay them the prize money they’re missing out on. Stop participating in the farce pic.twitter.com/MbFc2av95y
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) December 4, 2023
An account named the Lesbian Republican echoed these sentiments, expressing personal dismay at the impact of such outcomes on women’s cycling. Former NCAA swimmer and advocate for women’s sports, Riley Gaines, even offered financial compensation to female cyclists who boycott USA Cycling competitions in protest.
Johnson and Williamson have been competing in women’s races for several years, with Williamson amassing numerous first-place titles since 2017. In one instance, Williamson participated in both men’s and women’s categories at an event, winning in the women’s race but not placing in the men’s.
Williamson is also known for being in a polyamorous relationship with another transgender cyclist, Austin Kilips, who competes against biological women. Kilips has garnered attention for aggressive behavior during races, reportedly leading to the withdrawal of at least one female champion from the sport.
The controversy at the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships highlights the ongoing debate about the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s sports. Critics argue that it undermines the integrity and fairness of women’s competitions, while supporters advocate for inclusivity and the rights of transgender individuals to compete in categories aligning with their gender identity.
The discussion continues as sports organizations and communities grapple with finding a balance between fairness, inclusivity, and the evolving understanding of gender identity in athletics.