Login to VeloClub|Not a member?  Sign up now.
September 27, 2017
September 26, 2017
September 25, 2017
September 24, 2017
September 23, 2017
  • Mike

    Jesus, life can be so complicated. It makes me glad my sporting abilities have rarely troubled the timekeepers.

  • Paul M

    Absolutely the best coverage on this story that I have seen. Ella, (and Cyclingtips as an whole) has once again demonstrated why it is my first stop for Cycling news. (Some of the other articles have been… poor, to say the least) I only learned about Jillian a couple of months ago, but I am now a big fan. She impresses the heck out of me not just because she is a talented athlete, but because of the open, intelligent way she has gone about the clearly challenging process of transitioning as a high level athlete.

    • Anne-Marije Rook

      Thank you Paul!

  • winkybiker

    Great article. Good for Jillian that she is leading the life she needs in order to be happy, and perhaps make it easier for others to do so in the future. Two thumbs up. At the end of the day, it’s just bike racing. There are more important things than who wins and who loses.

    • Bärlach

      “There are more important things than who wins and who loses.” Well, as illustrated in the article, real women competing against such individuals have a different view regarding how fair the whole thing is.

      • lauren o’keefe

        What do you mean “real woman”? Jillian’s a real woman. She’s not a man pretending to be a woman. She’s a woman.

        There’s needs to be so much education in how hormone therapy works and what it does to the human body. The hormones Jillian is taking will have massively changed how her body works, how it builds muscle mass, probably even her lung capacity (I’m not an endocrinologist so I’m don’t know for sure). If you look at her numbers in the article, it clearly illustrates the drop in her power output after starting hormone therapy to an a female level – admittedly an elite female athlete level but still a female level.

        • Bärlach

          Sure, very real, being the father of two children. Get a grip.

          • Rob

            Barack – I sincerely hope you don’t encounter an identity crisis on the level of this lady. Your comment is out of line.

        • Fr0hickey

          So, Jillian = athlete + hormones. How is this equal to her competitors who do not take hormones?

          • winkybiker

            So what?

          • She takes hormones that suppress her natural athletic capabilities … hormones that suppress her testosterone levels and increase her estrogen levels. This is very much the opposite of “performance enhancing” hormones.

            • SkepticalMom

              But is still a male.

            • Fr0hickey

              But, how can you say that athlete+hormones is a good thing? Why give this athlete an exemption? If this athlete wants to compete, couldn’t we make a new category for athlete+hormones?

        • Alan Maelstrom

          I know you mean well, but I used to take feminizing hormones in an effort to transition to living as a woman, and it’s not the same. I’m male, but have suffered with gender dysphoria my whole life. I think it’s great society is more accepting of people like me, but we shouldn’t be competing against natal females. I was on testosterone blockers and estradiol for about a year and half. I actually met the requirement in the article around T levels… <10ng/Ml. The reason this number is likely used is that it's the lowest threshold for a lot of the lab equipment for checking hormone levels in blood. Mine would come back <10, and I'd ask what that meant, and my doctor told me it meant I had no detectable levels of T. However, I was still quite a bit stronger than my female friends and relatives. I have a bigger chest and lung capacity, along with residual muscle mass and bone structure from male puberty.

          It's awesome to be supportive of people with dysphoria, and accept that some of us ultimately need to transition to function. However, this support doesn't have to mean ignoring biology and the athletic advantages that come from male puberty.

          • donncha

            From memory when I looked into the Caster Semenya case, 10ng/L is used because it’s three times the 99th percentile level for women, i.e: 99% of women have T levels under 3ng/L.
            10ng/L was chosen as a way to try to ensure that anti-doping tests don’t accidentally catch non-doping women. Using it as the “OK level” for men transitioning to women would still give a large advantage. Indeed, a test of levels of T in elite male athletes showed the normal range was from 6ng/L up, with most athletes in the 12-15 range.

            • SkepticalMom

              At least with Caster Semenya there are legitimate questions to be discussed. Is Semenya female? Is Semenya male? Or neither? Or both? But Bearden and other males who have received medical treatments to appear female are undoubtedly male (there is even at least one all-male team competing in women’s cycling!). There is no question these competitors are male, and therefore there is no question about their competing against females – they should be disqualified from female athletic events.

              • Nomad

                Since you brought up Semenya, gender testing indicated that she is, in fact, female. However, as you know she has hyperandrogenism and produces 3 times the amount of testosterone that a normal female produces. One look at this, and we can see why:

                https://youtu.be/dKH-bnXBkPU

                So, IMO, Semenya has a clear genetic advantage over her competition. Consequently, she’s been destroying the field in the 800m with a PR near world record time. The Rio 800m final was a joke as she made the other girls look like amateurs. IMO, she shouldn’t be allowed to compete with the other females…or allow others to use PEDs in an effort to level the playing field.

                And when it comes to the diffetences of male – female physiology involved with endurance sports, I think most everyone here knows the advantages males genetically have:

                >Women have smaller hearts than men, so the heart pumps less per contraction. 
                > Women have lower Hb levels than men, so less oxygen can be transported. 
                >Women have higher body-fat stores than men.
                >Women have less muscle mass than men because of lower T levels.

            • Alan Maelstrom

              Thanks, I actually read the metric wrong in the article. My blood T was always measured in nanograms per deciliter of blood. The one in the article uses nmol/L. In that case, I actually had <1 nmol/L, well below females. What's interesting about androgen blockers is that males can achieve T levels far below natal female levels… usually at 30 to 100 ng/dL vs < 30ng/dL on blockers. And yet, I was still pretty strong.

          • OhRoie

            There’s a flaw in your argument… I was born a female and am 184cm tall. I have much larger bones and chest than most women of my acquaintance. Does that mean I shouldn’t be able to compete against more petite females?

            I admit to being skeptical about competition of trans women (especially those who transitioned later in life) and those born female, but if we have the statistics before and after hrt and the results show the differences you would expect between men and women, then I say have at it.

            • DaveRides

              If you insist on absolute fairness, the only options are:
              (a) outright races only with no segregated races based on sex, age or grading. Simply award the win to the best rider on the day.
              (b) banning mass start races and replacing them with handicap races.
              (c) retaining mass start races, but awarding the win on who gets closest to a target time determined for them before the race.

              Sex segregated races are a compromise, but probably the best compromise.

              • Rae A.

                YES

            • Alan Maelstrom

              I wouldn’t say there’s a flaw in my argument. You still haven’t accounted for differences in musculature from male puberty. A woman with a larger bone structure is still not the same as a trans woman. I guess if you could match number for number in health stats, you’re getting closer to justifying trans women competing against natal females, but I think it would be hard to account for everything. What happens when you think you’ve accounted for everything, but trans women still win a lot of events? Us gender dyshphoric people are rare… even a few trans women winning women’s events is telling.

              Also, height and size don’t translate to better performance in every sport. Your size might not give you an advantage in cycling… if it did, there would be other larger, born females migrating to the top of the sport (like basketball and volleyball). Also, where are all the trans men dominating male categories? I know there’s a US biathalon competitor who seems to compete at the elite levels, but that event also involves shooting which one could argue negates pure athleticism. Seems unfair to use the “hormone level” argument if trans men can’t also compete and win against born males.

              • Raur Lanthier

                Actually the transmen you talk about is Chris Mosier, and he’s on the national U.S. Team for duathlon(sprint) not biathlon(which is a winter sport), and that is running and cycling, so that take away the non-real-sport part of your argument. Now you have to also think about the idea of why there isnt a whole lot of transmen in amateur sport or elite sport, maybe it as to do with the fact that all the time they grow up before transitionning, maybe they got told by society to not go for sport, that its a dead end for people with women body… just saying… As for the waves of transwomen getting all the medal in multiple events… stilll waiting to see that, have you check the race gillian was racing in El Tour de Tucson? Its a Grand Fondo with a mix gender mass start with people mostly in their 30’s and more… Is that really the top elite field of women? What about the women that was with her all the way till she got a mechanical or a flat 10km from the finish line? isnt that proof that Jillian was not destroying the field with the so called all-mighty effect of puberty? Or maybe the any women that can match Jillian is suspect to be manly? Nobody really want to go in depth in the story and just comment at the top of their head without researching…

              • Fr0hickey

                This argument does not need to go into how larger bones and chest cavities disadvantage other athletes without such features. The argument is really about ‘enhanced=athlete+hormones’ vs ‘unenhanced=athlete only’.
                The logical conclusion of the prior argument would start having you split race categories by genealogy and genetics. Only-Scandinavians-Descended-From-This-Region-Can-Compete-Against-Each-Other-Because-Their-Gene-Pool-Gives-Them-An-Advantage.
                The real argument could be solved by instituting another category. We can call it the L.A.Classification. This would be any athlete plus hormones/drugs.

      • winkybiker

        “Fair”? Really? I never said anything about “fair”. But the races Jillian competes in are absolutely as fair as any others. In every race there are competitors who are at physiologically determined advantages and disadvantages. Does that make those races unfair? Of course not. But really, that’s not even the point. Life isn’t fair. If any of her competitors actually thought their own placing in a bicycle race was more important than the fundamental challenges Jillian has had overcome, then I’d judge those competitors pretty harshly.

        • Tyler

          Seriously? You’d judge them harshly? At the elite ranks this is these women’s livelihood and you would deny that to them? I look at it this way – I was pretty fast once but stopped racing seriously when it came clear I wasn’t quite good enough to ‘make’ it in the pro men’s field. The pro women’s field is far less deep though, and I naturally have pretty low testosterone so maybe the hormone changes wouldn’t have had as large an effect for me. Had I wanted it enough and even though I identify as male, maybe gender reassignment would have finally gotten me that pro contract… would it have been moral of me though?

          You’re right – life isn’t fair. If you feel you were born as the wrong gender and decide to undergo reassignment surgery, you should strive to understand the entire situation of your physicality relative to your competitors and eschew your desire to compete with your new gender in activities where strength, lung capactiy, and endurance play a dominant part!

          • winkybiker

            Yeah. Standing on the podium for self gratification and a handful of magic beans does not trump the deeper issues of gender identity that Jillian is dealing with. If her fellow competitors don’t get that, then I’d judge them pretty harshly. As far as the effect on the pros go, being paid to ride a bike isn’t a human right. I personally don’t ascribe much weight to the way issues may affect the miniscule number of people for whom that is even a thing.

          • Raur Lanthier

            Jillian won a Gran fondo for age grouper with a mass mix gender start… what part of it make it look like Jillian is taking away the livelihood of other Elite women racer?

  • RomanTheCube

    The only part of this article that doesn’t make sense to me is that 8 mins @ 338w is being reported as an elite level cyclist. Am I missing something here?

    • winkybiker

      Perhaps we should think “elite” rather than “pro”. That is, elite in the context of the general cycling population, not in the context of racing cyclists, where 338W for 8 minutes seems less impressive.

      • Ezra

        338 at an estimated 150lb means at the time, she would likely be dropped in any cat3 race when the road turned uphill. If she starts winning actual p12 races against good competitors, it will indicate a large discrepancy in relative performance pre and post transition.

      • Stewie Griffin

        Shhh, suddenly I felt elite for a second :D

    • Amy Shepard

      Colorado Springs is also at an altitude of 6000 ft. 338w there is probably 360-370 at sea level.

  • Stian Pollestad

    Excellent article. CyclingTips is the best, not just news from the pro-peloton, but also touching stories about people that just enjoy to ride.

  • winkybiker

    “Other issues are being looked over, like me being a woman in my 50s and still racing and placing.”

    I wonder what Sonye meant by this. Is she disappointed that she isn’t more famous?

  • Evan Darling

    Wow what a slippery slope! I have many trans friends and am a gay man myself (no desire to be a woman..another completely different subject!). My opinion varies on the subject as I am a racer too but this is great coverage. I am no doctor or pro/elite racer myself but this would be the best case to use for the issue. She was a Cat 1 male and transitioned. That is a badass rider from the start. Testing will tell all. I would love to see full numbers testing like VO2 max and more power tests. I can see why people would be upset as no woman can train like a pro male and produce power numbers to match then become female. Does transitioning and taking the girl drugs change the body that much? I think that is really the question. Kudos to her for having the bravery and focus to go through these changes though.

    • winkybiker

      This has me thinking. Should we abandon gender segregation for racing altogether and just have ability-related categories? It would remove doubt around these issues. An added benefit would be that everyone had equal access to (most) races.

      • Evan Darling

        I don’t think that would work as it would dilute women’s racing. A cat 2 or fast 3 man could dominate a race with a little sandbagging essentially eliminating women from podiums.

        • winkybiker

          So what? Sandbaggers prevent non-sandbaggers from getting on the podium now. It wouldn’t change. Do women have a right to be shielded from sandbaggers because they are women? (There are also plenty of fast women who could sandbag their way onto a podium in front of me.)

          PS: I don’t give a flying toss whether any particular arrangement either enables or prevents a tiny minority of cyclists of any (or no) gender being paid to ride their bikes.

          • Evan Darling

            Just saying because a pro man will have more potential than a pro woman and that is the basis of this debate. There are plenty of people who win in their category and refuse to move up because they don’t want to lose.

            • winkybiker

              I understand what you’re saying. If genders were ignored, it might mean fewer women could make a living riding bikes. The number of women (or men) who do that is miniscule anyway. A greater good is achieved by making racing open and fair to everyone. But yes, women’s pro cycling might implode.

              • Tyler

                Consider the differences in racing style between men and women.. risk taking when racing crits for example. They are completely different beasts. Have you ever even watched a bike race (well two, I guess. One from either gender)?

                • winkybiker

                  I’ve watched plenty of racing. There’s a variation in racing style and risk taking among participants in single gender racing, too.

                • DaveRides

                  If you could invent a grading system that is fit for purpose (i.e. can eliminate sandbagging) then that would gradually sort itself out. Eventually you’d get grades formed of riders who have different mixes of athleticism and skills (but similar levels of athleticism + skills = performance) which would result in different riders having chances to win in different types of race.

                  A relatively powerful female rider would do well in TTs, but a male rider with less power and better skills who races in the same mixed grade might beat her in a road race that includes a technical descent.

                  As winkybiker correctly points out, you don’t even need to have mixed races to see this sort of variation among riders who are at the same overall level.

                  Both sex or gender segregated racing and ability-based grading have points for and against them. I would probably lean towards mixed grades at amateur level, then sex segregated races at national/international level, but I’m prepared to accept that others have different views on this.

      • Rae A.

        but, don’t we really SEX segregate races (biology) so gender identity should really have nothing to do with it?

        • winkybiker

          Not 100% sure what you are saying. If it is that we already have biologically disparate levels of natural ability, regardless of sex or gender, then I would agree.

          • Rae A.

            Sorry, meant to reply to Evan Darling (above). My point is different, actually, so sounds like we disagree. We do have ability-related categories in racing (categories), but these are sex-segregated because male physiology gives an innate advantage.

            TransGENDER relates to gender. Cycling categories are SEX segregated. That is my point.

            But, ultimately, I think because male physiology gives an advantage, only natal females can compete in female categories, but transgender individuals can compete in either their natal born category or the male category.

    • DaveRides

      What we have here is a situation where there are three good things …
      1. equitable racing
      2. women’s racing
      3. trans-inclusive racing
      … but you can only pick two to have at a time, and either go without the other one or introduce mechanisms to compensate for it.

      • Evan Darling

        That’s why it’s such a tough call. Michelle Dumaresq was (is?) A pro downhill MTB racer. She is trans. I believe she should be able to compete as a female. There are plenty of smaller more slight men racing Downhill so IMHO that racing is like auto racing. More of a mental and tactical race than a show of pure strength and endurance. Bearden is a different story as more research is needed. It is awesome that she was able to transition and be happy but pushing the limits of ones body in a sport that is basically a human dynamometer is a bit unfair unless it can be proven she has been brought to the same level. Then who can determine the upper limits of female VO2 and power capability and what do you restrict her to? Also if she is being chemically limited is it fair for women past their age/fitness plateau to compete with someone inorganically regulated?

  • Sarah

    Overall a good article on a hard subject. That said, I always cringe when I see the “before” and “after” photos. If I were Jillian I dont’ think I’d like that.

    Studies show steroid benefits 10 years later (http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24730151). Not clear if natural testosterone has a similar benefit. Maybe the “12 months with low T” needs to be lengthened to 2 or 3 (or longer?) years?

    • Ezra

      The reason people object to trans athletes is not transphobia. The male body experienced, in this case, 32 years of testosterone. No amount of hrt can change that. It seems foolish to believe that the physiological differences between male and female can be resolved in 1 year, or even a decade. All that said, I am happy she is no longer plagued by mental problems.

      • Sarah

        I accept that not *all* people objecting to M-.F trans athletes do it out of transphobia, but judging by some of the comments here at least *some* do!

        To me, another aspect is about competition and sport. If the competition is good, then it’s fine. If anyone (trans or non-trans) totally dominates a field the racing just isn’t very interesting or exciting. This race was a close finish, so seems like the racing spirit was not compromised. Jillian adhered to the rules and won fairly in my mind.

    • DaveRides

      Some transgender people object to discussion/pictures of them pre-transition. Some feel happy talking about it in general, some might only do that if they think it will be helpful to others working through similar issues.

      It isn’t spelled out explicitly using “photo: supplied” or similar, but it looks to me like she supplied the photos for the article. If that’s the case, I thoroughly approve because respectfully asking and then honouring a person’s right to self-determination is a far better way to show support for a person than to blunder about making clumsy decisions on their behalf. Too many problems are caused when political correctness is used to treat people as sub-human.

  • Avuncular

    Good story. On a lighter note will she consider changing her name too? Jillian Nobearden?

    • Wily_Quixote

      Despite my inner tendency to be piously PC I have to give that a thumbs up.

  • Commenter2016

    Hormones don’t change lung capacity.

    “It is well known that normal adult males have larger lungs than females with similar age, height, and ethnicity.”

    https://www.aarc.org/aarc-membership/community/specialty-sections/diagnostics/diagnostics-section-bulletins/fallwinter-2016-diagnostics-section-bulletin/#1

    Hormones don’t change the advantage that males have in the angle of the leg bones.

    “The female pelvis has evolved to its maximum width for childbirth—a wider pelvis would make women unable to walk. In contrast, human male pelves are not constrained by the need to give birth and therefore are optimized for bipedal locomotion.”

    https://www.boundless.com/physiology/textbooks/boundless-anatomy-and-physiology-textbook/skeletal-system-parts-of-the-skeleton-7/the-hip-87/comparison-of-female-and-male-pelves-493-4533/

    It’s time we start getting the truth about what these biologically male trans athletes are doing to women in sports.

    • H.E. Pennypacker

      Facts have no place here, sir. This is feelings-based reality. Haven’t you heard that’s how we do things now?

    • winkybiker

      It’s a pretty extreme conspiracy theory that Jillian has undergone all this, just to place ahead of women in second tier races. You can’t seriously believe that this is some form of “cheating”.

      • SkepticalMom

        It doesn’t matter what Bearden’s reasons or intent in transitioning are, or his hormone levels, lung capacity, bone structure, etc. It simply boils down to the fact the he is male and will always be male. Males do not belong in female sports. There needs to be a mixed-sex category or a trans category rather than placing males in the female category.

        • lefthandside

          ‘he is male and will always be male’. Your comment just drags a valid debate about physical advantage and fairness in competition into the debate about whether transgender actually exists. I think you’ll find it pretty lonely out on that ledge

          • SkepticalMom

            It is a scientific reality that one’s sex cannot be changed. I am not disputing that transgender people exist, what I’m saying is that the medical treatments they undergo change their appearance and hormone levels, and help them come to peace with their bodies, but do not actually change their sex.

            Why have a female category at all if males are allowed in? Either keep it all female, or change the name to what it really is: mixed sex.

            • Raur Lanthier

              Could you define sex? I’m really interested in hearing your point of view on that? If its chromosonal, have you ever got yours checked? Or had your inside checked for any … maybe mild case of intersex condition you might not be aware of? Or hormonal level? What about those women that got born without a uterus? Is that about having natural big breast or maybe being able to feed baby with them? because all of that make it really hard to have straight line defining what is a women or a men on the sexual side, nature is kinda blurry.

              • SkepticalMom

                Nature is not really blurry at all. Males have XY chromosomes, females have XX. In my case there is no need for me to have my chromosomes tested as I have given birth to children, which is confirmation I am female. Bearden has fathered children, which is confirmation he is male. Females produce ova, males produce sperm which fertilize ova. This is biology 101.

                Intersex individuals are genetic anomalies and are a different situation than transgender individuals. Intersex people participating in sports is an entirely different conversation and has nothing to do with Bearden.

                • Raur Lanthier

                  But now… you could still bear only one X(turner syndrome), 3 X(triple X syndrome) or even 4 X… and still be able to carry on pregnancy that lead to a baby, and that would then disprove the idea that if you had your own baby, you are XX… this is also not biology 101, but sexual biology, which go a little further more into detail and we can have more time to see that chromosome are not the end of it. Would also womens that cant get pregnant have to be subjected to chromosome testing to see if they are really womens, because you know, xx women can have baby?

                  • SkepticalMom

                    Bearden is the topic of this article. Transgender individuals are the topic this discussion. Bearden is a male.

                    • Raur Lanthier

                      Okay back on Jillian Bearden, did you know the race she won was a Gran Fondo with a mix mass start? Did you know that she was riding up until 10km to go with a woman who had a flat at that moment and that could maybe had beaten her to the sprint? Did you know that Jillian and the other women were riding in a group with another 15 mens, and thats the group Jillian cross the line with? That kind of race in the cycling world is not what we could say… cutting edge… And it shows that Jillian didnt beat dead her competition and might had won only because of the flat her opponent had? Honest with you, i am trans and in 4 years of racing in the women peloton, i won one race(in master30-39) and it was due to a crash in the back of the peloton. Over 120 races and only 1 win… because of an unfortunate crash… I should also point out that despite that miraculous puberty i went through that everybody seem so fond to use as the ultimate argument, i regularly get stomped by 17years old women that are around 135pounds… Women’s are strong, stop acting like determination, nutrition, mental preparation and natural ability dosent make those women’s fierce opponent! They are and you should be proud of them and not think they are dainty things. Here in Québec nobody ever made me feel unconfortable because they were insecure. The women cycling community as been more than welcoming with me in regard of the fear i had before joining. If i felt like i was being way above their level, i wouldnt race, being wrecked by those women everyweek is part of why its challenging and fun! Couldnt find the one in english, now is the time to check your second language http://fr.daily.vice.com/videos/raur-meilleur-harvey-premiere-coureuse-cycliste-trans-au-quebec-partie-2 Enjoy

                    • SkepticalMom

                      None of that matters, though. What it boils down to is that males are competing in female athletics. Either rename the division mixed-sex, or start a transgender division. Female divisions are for females only.

                    • campirecord

                      Raur, I think the point is that Jillian comes from a very strong training history, regardless of the now and future, this is not something that is easily thrown out. We both know the level of fitness gain year over year cannot never be miraculous but that certain hormone levels can help an athlete bring its bodily functions to a new levels of pain thresh hold. I think that is the biggest point here. I agree with you, this story is not an issue for me but there are biological facts, 5% gain from puberty to maturity over 10-15 years of hard training does not immediately fade with hormone or op therapy. I think a good indicator for example are world caliber euro female athletes trying to keep up in a male crit, they don’t easily. Your example is relevant but the real question is really what was your fitness level as a teenager and in your early adult hood… I am going to guess that it wasn’t unique or exceptional but that you are now building up on it as trans. Its not apples to apples but I think we both agree that nothing ever is…and certainly having some kind of transgender race group would be socially ridiculous and impractical to me.

                    • SkepticalMom

                      Once again, none of that matters because Bearden is a male and therefore by definition does not qualify to compete in women’s divisions in sports. Start an open class or a mixed-sex class if you are so set on competing against women.

                  • campirecord

                    Just an FYI here, I believe the infertility rate in the examples above are quite high. Furthermore, chromosome testing does happen in Olympics and is reviewed case by case as we have seen in the past.

                  • SkepticalMom

                    Again, you are referring to intersex people, not transgender people. Other than intersex people who have a genetic abnormality, humans are either male or female. Bearden is male.

        • David9482

          lefthandside – EXACTLY! This article and most of the debate is mature and intelligent and SkepticalMom’s refusal to acknowledge Bearden’s chosen gender makes me sick.

          FACT: Bearden is a female. Either acknowledge this or please stop commenting. We are trying to have an intelligent debate and your ignorance is purely getting people mad.

          The issue is how to resolve the fairness of which category Bearden and others race in. I don’t pretend to have an answer. I wonder if only allowing these women to compete in master’s categories might be one solution. Refusal to grant them an elite category on grounds of their natural biology might be similar to inferior athletes’ natural biology holding them back from getting professional contracts.

          • glenny oc

            Actually you’re incorrect to state that Bearden is a female because He/She has no biological femaile organs to naturally produce female hormones and physiology. You can become a ‘sort of’ female but never 100%.

            • David9482

              k, obviously, Bearden doesn’t have the organs (thanks for spelling that out, I think all readers really needed to know that Bearden doesn’t have a uterus), but she has chosen to be identified as a female, and we live in a society that grants her that right.

        • Steve Fleming

          There is no female category, it’s not female cycling, it’s women’s cycling — segregated by gender and not sex. USAC and the IOC have made that clear by allowing transwomen who meet their guidelines to compete, and I commend them for being inclusive, compassionate and logical.

          Is it a 100% level playing field? Perhaps not.. but it never was to begin with. In sports like cycling and running where individual physiology can have such a big impact on performance there will always be some who are at an advantage over others.

          If transwomen were outright dominating womens competitions I would certainly have a different opinion on this matter (as would the IOC and USAC, no doubt) but that is not the case.

          • SkepticalMom

            There is no such thing as a male woman. A woman is an adult human female. Males who undergo transition do not actually become women.

            The person advising the IOC on this issue is Joanna Harper, who is a male who identifies as a woman, and who competes in running events against women. I would like to see an unbiased person take over this duty.

            How many males need to dominate in female sports before it becomes an issue for you? What percentage of winners or participants can be male before you change your opinion? Is 1% male winners in female sports OK? How about 5% or 10%? 30% A majority? How about no more than 50% male participants and no more than 25% who come in first second or third?

            Fallon Fox nearly killed Tamikka Brents. Gabrielle Ludwig dominated in women’s college basketball, despite being 52 years old. Downhill mountain bike racer Sylvia Castaneda, in his first female race (categorized as a novice), swept the in the entire female division, beating the top time of the entire elite female professional category by more than two seconds. This is similar to Michelle Dumaresq, who became the male Canadian National Women’s Champion of Downhill Mountain Bike Racing in 2001. Dumaresq entered the novice female class and won; in fact, her finish time was 2.5 seconds faster than the winner of the female professional category.

            Title IX was designed to give women and girls more opportunity in athletics and education, and has been ruled by a judge to apply to actual sex, yet males are taking athletic opportunities away from females in the NCAA.

            How many of these cases are too many?

            • David9482

              Anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove a point, it merely gives examples. Steve Fleming is right, transgender women DO NOT dominate women’s sports. Obviously you can give examples, but your examples don’t prove dominance, they highlight specific cases.

              Besides, leading off your examples with UFC shows the preposterous position you are taking – UFC isn’t a sport, it’s a blood bath that has massive outstanding issues and clearly doesn’t spend enough time analysing issues. Of course letting Fallon Fox fight Tamika was stupid, but they also have rampant doping and way too much money, so they clearly don’t need to sort through these issues…

              Anyways, back to the point. Steve Fleming commented earlier that USAC and the IOC quote gender, not sexuality, as the defining characteristic for these sports.

            • David9482

              Sorry, I just finished your full post – which one of the cases you mentioned did a female lose an opportunity in the NCAA???? Obviously Ludwig, but that’s just one case. NCAA is not dominated by transgendered women, and further, there are many NCAA spots that are not filled each year, so opportunities still exist for women to compete and study.

              As mentioned, these are issues that need to be worked out, but blanket bans for these women would be ignorant and would deny their right to feel included by society. The greater good of inclusiveness is much more important than who wins a basketball game!

            • lauren o’keefe

              Are you a endocrinologist? Specialist in gender dymorphia? Even a psychologist who specialises in this area? Do you have any expertise in this area at all or are you using Dr Google to justify your position?

              The USAC and IOC will have science – actual real science – to back their position. Pretty sure you don’t. Yes, speaking at a chromosomal level, you can’t change your gender. But hormonaly? These days you certainly can. And it’s hormones that essentially control our entire bodies.

              • SkepticalMom

                Taking cross-sex hormones and fiddling with the body’s hormone levels does not change a person’s sex, it simply changes a person’s hormone levels. A person’s sex cannot be changed. Everyone knows this; it is an extremely basic fact.

          • Rae A.

            Actually, no. it is segregated by sex and not by gender. What makes you think socially-constructed gender norms have anything to do with it? It’s all about biological differences.

        • Luke Farrugia

          I agree with you except for the trans category. Any trans athlete that competed in said category defies the whole point of transgendering…to be accepted as a member of the other gender.

          Personally I think by doing so they loose being able to be identified in either.

    • Raur Lanthier

      I like that you discredit the idea that sport is not about seeing freaks of nature win over less freaks of nature… Are you implying thatwomen should get their pelvis measured to see if they dont have undue advantage over their competitor because of norrow hips? Or maybe they should disqualify the ones with high lung capacity, because then they are kind of like men, no? And what about that 6′ woman with huge legs that beat the others in the sprint, kick her out, shes cheating with her unatural height and muscle weight! This is all nonsense, you are spitting on all the women that diverge from your ”normal” 5’6” 130lbs lightly muscular at best model of women. Should we apply the same reasonning to mens sport? What about basketball player over 6’2” are having unfair advantage over the normal basketball players? Oh! let’s ask Phelps to have surgery to correct is too long arms? And that sprinter, shouldnt he have is nervous system put back to normal so he can only maintain the same degree of reaction as the other runner… so unfair. Like Elite sport is about average joe and jane…

  • Sydney Brown

    Good on you Bearden. Welcome to the women’s peleton – you and your team. Thank you for your courage and determination.

  • Sydney Brown

    Also, great article Anne-Marije Rook.

  • Ajh

    I just wanted to thank Anne-Marije Rook and Cyclingtips for this outstanding article. It is probably one of the best I have read over the years; it is a very respectful article but attempts to achieve some balance through getting comments from Bearden’s competitors. I would also like to thank the readers; the majority have provided intelligent commentary which adds to the article. Media in general loves sensationalism and in this world of clickbait journalism this subject is ripe for exploitation. In Brisbane a couple of years ago there was a transgender woman murdered and the media coverage was horrendously distasteful combined with social media’s 5 cents worth; that the fact that a human being lost their life was all but lost in the rhetoric. Let’s get it in perspective here; she has won one race; not every race. it will be interesting to see how she performs over 2017. I am impressed By Jillian’s character and she looks like she is supported by an equally strong family, how many of us can say the same about our lives?

  • Alan Maelstrom

    I’m happy this person is able to live a life that’s more comfortable for them, but it’s not fair to born female athletes. I’m someone born male who used to take feminizing hormones in an effort to transition to living as a woman. Even after well over a year on testosterone blockers, I was still a lot stronger than my female friends and family members. I had regular blood tests and met the requirement stated in the article… “less than 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition”. My T level was basically undetectable, but looking at me you could still clearly see I was someone born male. I may have lost muscle mass, but it would still have been unfair for me to complete in sports against women born female. I still had a larger body frame, greater lung capacity and residual strength and muscle mass from having gone through male puberty. The idea of competing in sports against women just seemed like an absolute absurdity to me, and yet, it’s happening everywhere, in almost every sport women compete in. It’s not fair, and needs to stop. Women and girls are not simply males who’ve had testosterone taken out of their bodies. I’m not being transphobic stating this… I’m not arguing against trans people’s right to go through transition, but we don’t have to ignore biology, especially in cases like this where it’s hurting women.

    • Cal C

      Yes, I don’t think it’s fair either. I have zero issue with this socially or politically, but this is a test of strength against women. In a sport where strength to weight is pretty much the whole game and height (long legs) gives leverage for climbing. Take a man and woman the same size with ‘identical’ muscle and bone structure, the woman will be about 5kg heavier, due to reproductive organs that men don’t have. 5kg is a lot if you’ve ever climbed a hill. She should at least have to wear a weight vest to be somewhat more fair.

    • SkepticalMom

      Thank you for speaking out about your experience. IMHO, what it boils down to is Bearden is male. He will always be male, despite whatever chemical fiddling doctors do to his hormone levels. A person cannot change from male to female. Males should not be allowed to compete in female sports divisions.

      It doesn’t matter what any athletic capacity tests show or whether males win or lose against women — Bearden and all the other male athletes competing in female categories are still males and do not belong in female sports. IMHO, a mixed-sex division should be created, or an open division, or transgender male division. Males should not compete in female athletics. It is simply not right. Female sports are for females only. This is common sense, not transphobia. Females already have so few athletic opportunities compared to males, and now males are encroaching (more and more every day) upon what little there is for females.

      • Mike

        I don’t know whether I agree with the main thrust of your argument or not but I too am tired of the way people scattergun the word transphobia about the place. Labelling as phobic someone who happens to disagree with you is a cheap shot. I am allowed not to like the process of switching sex, it doesn’t mean I suffer from an irrational fear, it means I don’t like it.

        • SkepticalMom

          I don’t have any qualms about Bearden and other men who want to take hormones and undergo surgical procedures in order to appear more feminine. My point is that this does not make them female. Males have no business competing in female events, period.

          • Greg

            2/10 on the troll scale.

            • SkepticalMom

              Do you seriously think it is trolling when females object to males being allowed to compete against them in female athletics? Of course females are going to be upset about it and object to it. It is a perfectly normal reaction.

              • Greg

                There are definitely good arguments. And I’d probably fall on the same side of the fence as you in ultimate outcome. But your overly insistent use of male pronouns and casually dismissive reference to her just wanting to “appear more feminine” is pretty telling. As a male, I can assure you that taking HRT often referred to as “chemical castration” in other contexts is not undertaken because someone wants to “appear more feminine.” And the issues is much more complex than just “trans” cases. In some cases, like Castor Semenya and others, it’s genuinely ambiguous which biological sex to assign them. My general feeling is that sports governing bodies shouldn’t wade into the medical practice of regulating this type of HRT for a variety of reasons. There are multiple ethtical “cans of worms” in doing so. But throughout the discussion I think it’s important to treat all athletes involved with dignity and empathy. The author of this article did that very well.

                • SkepticalMom

                  Where is Bearden’s empathy for females? Where is the dignity for the second-place actual female athlete who must concede the race to a male, must smile, congratulate him and be a good sport or face sanctions? I will treat Bearden with empathy and dignity when he does the same for females, and bows out of competing against them in athletics.

                  • Greg

                    I don’t participate in Internet lynch mobs against largely defenseless people diagnosed with psychological disorders. If you want to, knock yourself out. I hear Reddit is good for that sort of thing.

                    • SkepticalMom

                      I’m not out to lynch anyone, I am simply sticking up for female athletes and pointing out that there is no way to make a male into a female — not surgery, not hormones, not clothing or hairstyles. Having a hard life, a psychological disorder or a touching story doesn’t make a male into a female, either. Bearden doesn’t belong in female sports.

                    • Bärlach

                      Well said!

                    • David9482

                      SkepticalMom – I’m sorry, did you say Bearden has a psychological disorder? Your take on this issue is akin to Catholicism thinking homosexuality was a choice that should be psychologically reversed through therapy…. Oh no, do you think homosexuality should be reversed??

                    • SkepticalMom

                      The user “Greg” is the one who first used the term “psychological disorder.” I was simply referring to his statement. I assume he was referring to Bearden but it is not exactly spelled out. You’ll have to ask Greg who/what he was referring to when he used the term “psychological disorder.”

                    • DaveRides

                      I presume she was talking about gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder as it was called in the previous edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

                • David9482

                  EXACTLY – SkepticalMom is not treating these athletes with dignity and empathy as human beings. Any person who feels they should be living as the other gender needs to be taken seriously and treated with respect. Refusing to acknowledge their chosen gender is akin to men from previous generations refusing to believe women should leave the kitchen. Ignorance takes many forms and it is one of society’s greatest flaws.

                  In terms of which category Bearden and others should compete in I agree the current system is flawed. HOWEVER, sport is not a right so Bearden is not stealing victories from other women. In fact, SkepticalMom is stealing dignity from her by refusing to address her as female, which is far more serious. If SkepticalMom still thinks that sport is supposed to produce perfect outcomes and that Bearden’s competing against women is Sport’s biggest problem, you should probably give your head a shake! Sport is rife with unfair situations, especially the basic premise that harder working athletes are beaten by more naturally gifted athletes on a regular basis. That is the ultimate unfair playing field.

                  Sport is much more than the final result, it is a way to discuss and attempt to solve society’s larger issues, and gender identity and equality are very important issues. SkepticalMom’s refusal to address Bearden as a female is proof that we still have a long way to go. Clearly, SkepticalMom still believes all women belong in the kitchen.

                  • SkepticalMom

                    Males are females. Females are males. 2+2=5. These statements are all false. If you choose to believe them, that is your right, but you cannot force me to believe that which is not true.

                    All I am saying is that it is scientifically impossible for a male to become a female. Bearden has every right to “identify as a woman” but that does not make him an actual female. I am talking sex here, biology. Not feelings of “gender.”

                    My other main point, which I will state yet again, is that if a sports category is for females only, then males who transition should not be included in that category, or the category needs to be renamed to reflect the biology of all those who are participating in it.

                    I have empathy for anyone who has struggled with their identity. Obviously, it is difficult. However, identifying as something doesn’t actually make you that thing. We all know this. If Bearden and all the other males who compete in female sports would bow out and start their own division, or mixed sex divisions, I would have much more respect for them. Like it or not, they are different from females. This statement is not meant to bash them, it is simply reality.

                    As for the rest of your statement, you are making assumptions about me and putting words in my mouth, none of which are true.

                    • David9482

                      If you are sympathetic with Bearden’s identity struggle, why do you refuse to call her “her”. If, as you say gender is a feeling, why not allow Bearden the dignity of calling her by her chosen gender.

                      Further, if you want to get down to technicalities, you are also incorrect in how you define male and female under the Olympic sports umbrella. The definition of male and female is not purely determined by chromosomes. So, once again, you are technically incorrect, being born a male doesn’t mean you can not later be classified as a female for the purposes of competitive sport. Sorry, but I’m right in this case.

                    • SkepticalMom

                      A person’s sex is dictated by their chromosomes and DNA. Just because the corrupt IOC is allowing males to compete in female sports does not prove that males can actually become females. I’m talking reality here, basic science, biological reality. Just because the corrupt IOC classifies a male as a female does not actually make that person a female. Born male, always a male. This is basic science.

                      Bearden and all the other males who compete in female sports should respectfully bow out of female sports, or, female sports should be renamed to reflect the sex of all who participate. I will call Bearden “her” when he shows respect to females by respectfully bowing out of female sports.

                      edit: removed an extra word

              • Bärlach

                Some people, when they run out of reasonable arguments, they call the other person “troll” or “misogynist” or homophobic” or a number of other names from the quiver of cryptofascism clad as political correctness. Sadly it works, for one gets anxious to be called those names, so those people get away with whatever nonsense they are propagating.

            • Bärlach

              Some people, such as Greg here, when they run out of reasonable arguments, they call the other person “troll” or “misogynist” or homophobic” or a number of other names from the quiver of cryptofascism clad as political correctness. Sadly it works, for one gets anxious to be called those names, so those people get away with whatever nonsense they are propagating.

              • Greg

                4/10. One extra point for inserting “cryptofascism” into the thread.

    • David9482

      Alan, I agree wholeheartedly with your discussion. And, quickly to address SkepticalMom, you’re completely incorrect that these women are MALE. That’s absolutely ignorant and if you refuse to see the obvious flaws in that statement I wish the administrator would remove your posts.

      Back to Alan’s point, you bring up the most important issue that needs to be sorted out. Even though the human therapy reduces this woman’s physical ability, the cards are still stacked against her born-female competitors. For example, one physical advantage that males enjoy over women is our skeletal structure, which gives much more powerful leverage over women.

      Further, I’ve seen this issue play out in my racing career. One of my teammates made the transition and has lived very successfully as a woman this past decade. She has also been very successful racing against women in our local races. However happy I am for this person living as she truly feels she should – I can’t help but think she has an unfair advantage over her competitors. When she was racing as a man, there were days he would make us look stupid with how strong he was, and that natural physiology obviously transitions over.

      I wonder if amateur sport should perform other tests (eg. skeletal ratio, muscle mass, etc.) to determine what is fair. Don’t forget, it is a right to be able to live as a male/female if you feel you should, but it isn’t a right to be able to compete as a woman if you still have carryover advantages from your previous physiology.

      However, I don’t pretend to think I know the real answers to this issue, and obviously it is more important that these men/women feel safe and comfortable in their skin, sport is just a past-time.

      • SkepticalMom

        XY chromosomes = male. When archeologists dig up our civilization 1000 years from now, Bearden’s remains will be tagged “male,” because that is what he is. One cannot “identify” out of one’s chromosomes.

        • David9482

          Sport does not use chromosome testing to identify between male and females for competition. They use other parameters to identify between genders for competition.

          Honestly, you’re not addressing the issue of fairness for competition. You are merely stating your opinion that Bearden is not a woman. Great, you’ve stated it a million times, please move on or provide more mature answers.

          • SkepticalMom

            It doesn’t matter what a male’s hormone levels are, or his lung capacity or bone structure. If a person is male, they should not compete in female sports. That’s all there is to it. If a female division is not made up of all females, it should be renamed as mixed-sex or open.

            I don’t understand why you think this stance is not a mature one. It is based upon biological reality.

            • David9482

              This is based on your opinion. Many in the scientific community (who have zero affiliation with the IOC) believe that the definition of male or female for the purposes of sport is more complicated than your chromosomes. I agree with them. However, I do feel that the current parameters may give an unfair advantage and should be reconsidered. I don’t agree that males who identify as female should never be allowed to compete as women.

              • SkepticalMom

                Many in the scientific community also disagree. The person advising the IOC on this issue is a transgender male, a runner who competes against women. (edit: his name is Joanna Harper.) I would like to see an unbiased voice advising the IOC. The IOC is corrupt enough to begin with.

                We will have to agree to disagree. I will never agree that males should compete in female sports.

  • Been There

    Major low point for cycling and the transgender community is Ibis and its marketing of a “Tranny” mountain bike, called out here http://www.ibistrannyreview.com

  • Sara

    My heart goes out to Jillian, she’s a remarkable person and obviously a dedicated athlete. Not only does she have to compete in her chosen sport, but she has to deal with the doubters and haters, too. That brings up my question. What about those athletes who don’t wish to disclose that they transitioned. There is such a thing as privacy. Would they have to out themselves and risk derision, loss of respect, and an influx of hate?

  • Coach

    Bravo! Great article and I wish her all the best and great happiness. Life is too short.

    Is there any examples of riders going Female to Male?

  • Ezra

    A beautiful display of cultural marxism

  • glenny oc

    My dad takes hrt for prostate cancer so that drops his testosterone levels to that of a woman basically however he is still a man, I think unless you transition fully you are still one sex just adjusted by hormone therapy which is easy to step away from. Why not have a dedicated trans race category?

  • campirecord

    This is a great article but again: “people, bike, friendly race” One would think hundreds of malnourished Aleppo kids depend on a podium placement and a free tubby for world peace. That is the kind of poison that is detrimental to cycling. Learn to win, be proud of your race.

  • Andy B

    im not even going to pretend to understand the complexities of this issue and whether or not she has an advantage..
    I can see how it would be contentious among competitors though

  • Bones

    Because there are definite physical disadvantages when competing against males, females should be able to compete either against males and other females, BUT males should only be allowed to compete against males. So we need to have a clear and legal definition of ‘female’. The only real viable solution is genotype testing. If you have a ‘Y’ chromosome, you are not a female.

  • Ruby Sparks

    I feel a bit let down by Ella CyclingTips. I’m not convinced we should be celebrating the achievements of people with a male body over people with a female body in a female race. I don’t really care about what people choose to wear, call themselves, act etc. but the entire reason we separate sport by gender is because it’s about physical differences and not about what you feel like or identify as. If you have gone through male puberty (and this would be different for transwomen who have not reached this point and have taken puberty blockers until female hormones) then you have physical advantages which cannot be eliminated by a year or two of hormone treatment. Increased size, muscle mass, blood volume, power, better Q angle, no menstrual cycle etc. etc. It’s not just about testosterone levels, and I actually think it’s disingenuous the way you have pointed out out that transgender women are required to keep their testosterone levels below 10 nm/L when compared to levels typically 10-30 for a man; you don’t mention women’s levels at all, which are normally 1-3 nm/L, less than a third of a tranwoman’s levels.
    The reference to an entire team of physical men racing in women’s competitions means it is very possible that XX women will find it hard to compete – defeating the point of making female competitions in the first place.

  • Tzanchan77

    I’m a man with mixed emotions about this issue. Therefore articles like this are great, because we have to discuss this and learn about this issue and not just pass judgement for or against. We can all imagine the difficulties that someone like Jillian experiences in being a woman in a man’s body, this is real.

    I worry though that the data is still not there in terms of any advantage that a male to female athlete might have. At this 800 meter final at the Olympics, Caster Semenya, won by a huge margin over the best female 800 meter runners in the world. That bothers me and I’m pretty sure bothers her competitors. Not from a male or female perspective as much as clearly knowing that there is a level playing field.

  • Erhe R.

    Stupid. This society is gonna crumble by itself just like the Roman one tanks to its constant escalation into degeneracy.

  • Baxter Ross

    There is a cumulative effect of training at a high level before the transition. I have all the empathy in the world for Jillian as a person, but as an athlete, this is the equivalent of doping and training to a very high level for 15+ years, then going clean and racing against clean athletes. The effects of years of training as a male WILL result in a higher level of performance than if Jillian had trained for those same years as a female.

  • Trey Walker

    This is nuts, literally, nuts. In no way, shape, or form is this fair to the actual females that he/she races against.

  • Strum Pluckins

    Why not just create a separate sport category for transgender women. Let them compete against each other rather than forcing biological females to compete against them?

BACK TO TOP

Pin It on Pinterest

15 NEW ARTICLES
September 27, 2017
September 26, 2017
September 25, 2017
September 24, 2017
September 23, 2017