MADISON, Wis. — Sherry Mix puts in 10 to 15 hours a week training for elite-level mountain and fat-tire bike races in the region. The Verona, Wis. woman says it’s hard work but rewarding to the women who ride.
But as “equity” politics are further infused into just about every aspect of life, including competitive sports, cyclists like Mix are forced to compete on an unequal course. Last month, Mix finished third in a Snow Crown Fat Bike Series event in De Pere billed Fattyshack. The winner of the USA Cycling-sanctioned event was Kenzie Statz, a cyclist who was born male and now identifies as a transgender woman.
Statz beat the second-place finisher by about two minutes, and was about three minutes faster than Mix. But the transgender cyclist finished more than 10 minutes ahead of the next closest competitor.
Statz has been finishing in the money in a number of races. Before transitioning and competing in the women’s events, it appears Statz didn’t fare nearly as well in the men’s competitions.
Mix said Statz is a really nice person, and she has nothing against transgender people wanting to compete in a terrific sport. But Statz, like other men who identify as women, often have a distinct physiological advantage over their fellow female opponents that cannot be denied.
“We’re just trying to figure out what we can do. You get these guys actually training, they’re just naturally faster and stronger than women. It’s just science, how bodies work,” Mix said.
Hormones Won’t Level the Playing Field
It seems USA Cycling is more interested in political correctness than science.
The Colorado-based organization that champions cycling from starting riders to world-class athletes, follows the International Olympic Committee guidelines on transgender athletes. IOC policies state that cyclists who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in any male category without restriction. Those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category if they:
— Have declared their identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
— Demonstrate that their total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to their first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
— Maintain total testosterone level in serum below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
“Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by random or for cause testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months,” USA Cycling states on its website.
But there remains disagreement over the thorny issue of how much testosterone in trans women athletes is unfair. As The Guardian reported in 2019, plans to introduce stricter guidelines for transgender athletes for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (scrubbed allegedly because of the pandemic) were stalled “because the whole subject is so politically charged and sensitive.”
Officials from USA Cycling did not return a call seeking comment.
A study released last month by the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds transgender men continue to have an athletic advantage over natural females even after a year on hormone therapy.
Biden Ushers in Anti-Science Policy
Mix’s story is just one example of an anti-science phenomenon happening across the country, now being enforced by the federal government. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to use the Department of Education to investigate and address any violations of transgender students’ civil rights, including removing federal funding or risking legal action. Sure enough, one of President Biden’s first acts in office was to issue an executive order that, in part, demands transgender students be allowed to compete on opposite-sex sports teams.
A few weeks later, Montana’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter used Biden’s executive order to threaten the state’s federal funding if it passed legislation protecting women’s sports by banning men who identify as women from participating.
“I understand they’re [transgender athletes are] looking for a place to belong, but I don’t think putting them in the women’s category is the right answer,” Mix said.
She said other cyclists feel similarly, but they’re afraid to speak out for fear of being labeled bigots and the threat of losing their licenses to compete. USA Cycling-sanctioned races require a license to enter.
“People are scared to say anything. It’s deemed bullying,” Mix said. “They can tell you you can’t race. They can kick you out of a race. I could have my license taken away.”
It’s another twist in the left’s conflicted culture wars. The losers, critics say, are the women who have worked so hard to advance the rights of women to compete.
“Most of us are riding 10 hours a week, easily 15 hours a week in the summer. We train every day for this,” Mix said. “To have a guy come in and take that away, that’s why women fought so hard to protect our equal rights. It’s like taking those equal rights away.”