LONDON: Transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon has defended her right to compete in women´s sport despite accepting trans athletes may retain a physical advantage over their rivals.
The Canadian is aware of the reported findings of a study by Sweden´s Karolinska Institute that indicates testosterone suppression for transgender women has limited effect on reducing muscle strength.
But McKinnon, defending her sprint title at the Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester this weekend, told Sky News it was a human right for transgender women to take part in competitive sport.
“All my medical records say female,” she said. “My doctor treats me as a female person, my racing licence says female, but people who oppose my existence still want to think of me as male.
“There´s a stereotype that men are always stronger than women, so people think there is an unfair advantage. By preventing trans women from competing or requiring them to take medication, you´re denying their human rights.”
McKinnon acknowledged that it was possible that transgender women retained a physical advantage over other competitors.
“In many Olympic disciplines the gap in performance is bigger between first and eighth in a single sex event than it is between the first man and the first woman,” she said.
The debate about whether it is fair for transgender women to compete in women´s sport has come into sharp focus since a row developed between McKinnon and former tennis player Martina Navratilova earlier this year.
Navratilova said the issue of transgender athletes was guaranteed to keep raising competitive as well as ethical questions.
New rules introduced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) say that female transgender athletes must lower their testosterone levels significantly.
Transgender athletes are no longer required to be recognised by law in their new gender but only need to provide a “signed declaration” that they identify as female.