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Cyclist Rachel McKinnon criticises Paula Radcliffe for trans athletes stance

Ella Braidwood March 29, 2019
Rachel McKinnon and Paula Radcliffe

Rachel McKinnon (left) and Paula Radcliffe. (rachelvmckinnon/Instagram/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

World champion trans cyclist Rachel McKinnon has criticised Paula Radcliffe for spreading “irrational fear,” after the former British long-distance runner said that trans athletes should be excluded from elite sport.

Radcliffe said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday (March 29): “There are absolutely probably hundreds of transgenders who want to take part in sport for all of the other benefits that it brings.

“And all we’re saying is: ‘That’s fine, but not elite sport.’

Radcliffe, who has held the Women’s World Marathon Record since 2003, added: “Because elite sport, that female section of elite sport, has to be protected, so that females can genuinely reach the top of it.”

Rachel McKinnon: Paula Radcliffe “continues to ignore facts” on trans athletes

However, McKinnon, who became the first transgender woman to win a world cycling title in October, said that Radcliffe had ignored factual evidence and was promoting an “irrational fear” of trans athletes.

“The rights of trans athletes shouldn’t hang on what any individual says or does,” she told PinkNews.

“Rights don’t work like that.”

Rachel McKinnon who has criticised Paula Radcliffe
Rachel McKinnon became the first trans woman to win a cycling world title in October. (rachelvmckinnon/Instagram/Craig Huffman Photography)

The Canadian cyclist, who is also an associate professor in philosophy at the College of Charleston in America, continued: “Paula continues to ignore facts: trans women are legally female [and] trans women have been permitted to compete in Olympic-eligible sports since October 2003.

“In the Olympic Games, since 2004, there have been over 52,000 Olympians and not a single trans person has ever qualified, let alone won a medal.

“The very idea that we must ‘protect’ cis women’s—or ‘female’—sport from trans women, who are legally female, too, is an irrational fear of trans women, which is the dictionary definition of transphobia.”

“The very idea that we must ‘protect’ cis women’s—or ‘female’—sport from trans women, who are legally female too, is an irrational fear of trans women, which is the dictionary definition of transphobia.”

—World champion cyclist Rachel McKinnon

In October, McKinnon, who has written a number of papers on the inclusion of trans athletes in sport, won the women’s 35-44 sprint during the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles.

Paula Radcliffe suggests being transgender is a “choice”

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Radcliffe also implied that she believed being transgender is a “choice.”

She told the radio station: “Transgender [it] involves a choice and they can factor into that how that will affect them competing in elite sport.”

Clarifying her view, she added: “So actually transitioning is a choice, to transition, that’s what I mean.

Radcliffe’s comments come after a number of other former elite sports stars suggested that trans athletes should be excluded from the top levels of sport.

Earlier in March, former British swimmer Sharron Davies tweeted that trans women had “male sex advantage” and that they “should not be able to compete in women’s sport.”

And, in February, tennis player Martina Navratilova claimed that it was “insane” to allow trans women to compete in sport.

More: Paula Radcliffe, rachel mckinnon, trans athletes

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