History maker: Jillian Bearden was born male and though not having had sex reassignment surgery has won a major women’s event.
A transgender rider who identifies as female has won a major women’s race in the US in what is believed to be a first for cycling.
Jillian Bearden was born a male but identifies as a transgender woman and has not had sex reassignment surgery.
She was able to take part in the event under new rules ushered in by an International Olympic Council decision.
Bearden took victory in the 106-mile El Tour de Tucson in Arizona at the weekend in a time of 4hrs 36mins, some 25mins behind the men’s winner; Mexican Olympic cyclist Hugo Rangel.
“It’s absolutely huge,” history-maker Bearden (36) told local reporters.
“We’re at a moment of time where not only do we have to come out but we have to be positive.
“We have to come together in solidarity and move this country in a direction that is accepting of all.”
Bearden is from Colorado and has to been to the fore in gender inclusion in US cycling.
She recently founded Transnational Women’s Cycling Team, the world’s first transgender cycling group.
She said she was hopeful her winning the women’s race would spur on other transgender athletes.
She beat rival Anna Sparks by just one second, with those two riders dominating the women’s race and coming home 22 minutes ahead of 3rd placed rider Suzanne Sonye.
Earlier this year the IOC said transgender athletes in all sports should be permitted by national federations to compete in the Olympics and international events without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
It said in January it had made the decision to reflect the shift in societal and legal attitudes towards transgender people.
Those transgender athletes born as female but who identify as male should be allowed, according to the IOC guidelines, to compete in men’s events without any restriction.
And those transgender athletes born as male but who identify as female should be allowed to compete in women’s events as long as they take steps to maintain their testosterone below a cut-off point.
The IOC’s guidelines are recommendations to national governing bodies and sports governing bodies rather than rules that must be accepted.
The IOC said the male-to-female athletes should be able to show their testosterone levels were below the cut off point for a full year before the event they want to take part in.
Previously, under IOC guidelines published in 2003, transgender athletes were required to undergo reassignment surgery before they could switch to competing in the gender they identified as but not born as.
“It is necessary to ensure insofar as possible that trans athletes are not excluded from the opportunity to participate in sporting competition,” the IOC said in its new guidelines published earlier this year.
“The overriding sporting objective is and remains the guarantee of fair competition,” it added.
“To require surgical anatomical changes as a precondition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights.”