Taking to the track at the 2019 Master’s Track Cycling World Championships in Manchester, sprinter and trans activist Rachel McKinnon successfully defended her World Championship title in the 200m Sprint Event. McKinnon achieved a gold medal and a world record for her age category at the event, following up with her achievement from the 2018 World Championships in which she did the same. In addition to the gold, McKinnon also took home silver in the 500m event.

McKinnon, who represented Canada at the event was joined on the podium by her fellow competitors, America’s Dawn Orwick and Denmark’s Kirsten Herup Sovang who took home silver and bronze respectively.

As to be expected, there has been considerable discussion regarding McKinnon’s achievements as the issue of the eligibility of transgender athletes to compete in their selected gender division is hotly debated. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) which sanctions and sets the rules and regulations for the World Championships does not have a specific policy regarding transgender participation, however after McKinnon’s win last year draw considerable debate, they did release a statement noting their awareness and pointing out that the trans athletes who have received a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TEU) from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to participate in accordance with the individual sporting federations policies. According to the UCI statement, they are working on a policy in line with the International Olympic Committee guidelines to support participation of transgender athletes.

Athletes like McKinnon are having a positive influence on helping to shape these kinds of inclusive policies to ensure that all athletes are able to authentically participate while supporting fair sport. As more athletes like McKinnon participate in sports, the more we learn how to make sport is open and equal for all.

By Dirk Smith