Two trans-identified males dominated women’s competitions at the Chicago CycloCross Cup yesterday, leading many women’s rights advocates to condemn the tournament for allowing men to self-identify into the women’s categories.
The CycloCross Cup was held at Jackson Park in Chicago, Illinois from October 7 to 8, and comprised of over one dozen different competitions for men, women, and junior athletes. But two trans-identified males topped the podium in two different competitions, taking home medals and, in one event, prize money.
In the Women’s SingleSpeed and Category 1/2 races, trans-identified male Tessa Johnson took first place. The Category 1/2 competition also came with $150 in prize money.
But Johnson wasn’t the only male on the podium in the Women’s SingleSpeed, with Evelyn Williamson taking silver in the competition. The result means that only one biological female, Allison Zmuda, was on the podium for that race, placing third for bronze.
Williamson also participated in the Women’s Category 1/2 race, placing fourth and winning $75 in prize money.
According to the Chicago CrossCup’s website, the competition prides itself on “first and foremost fostering a positive & supportive community built around competitive cyclocross racing,” continuing: “That means welcoming and challenging everyone who wants to contribute to the series and make it better in that regard.”
In its official FAQ on the topic of transgender cyclists, the Cup notes that “discrimination or harassment of any kind on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, national origin, or any other stupid idea someone comes up with to belittle another racer will not be tolerated at [our] events and may result in disqualification.”
On X (formerly Twitter), news of Johnson and Williamson’s victories was shared by user @i_heart_bikes, an anonymous female cyclist who frequently calls out males self-identifying as “women” in the sport. In response, many women’s rights advocates and sports enthusiasts condemned the competition for allowing the men to participate.
“What impressive men who can beat women with their testosterone,” one user said sarcastically.
“Male athletic advantage exists. It doesn’t belong in the protected category of women’s sports. More importantly, it is not the responsibility of any female athlete in any level of any sport to validate or affirm the identity of men. Ever,” Jess Kruchoski replied.
“Pathetic failed men proud of winning prizes meant for women. Total failures both of them,” user @crusepat wrote.
Speaking to Reduxx on the results of the Chicago CycloCross Cup (CCC), a spokeswoman from ICONS condemned the competition for not prioritizing fairness towards female athletes.
“The CCC states that discrimination will not be tolerated; however, they fail to recognize that by allowing advantaged male athletes to take podium awards in women’s races, they are blatantly discriminating against half the population,” she said.
ICONS, or the Independent Council on Women’s Sports, is a campaign group dedicated to defending the rights of female athletes to single-sex sport and has vocally advocated against policies which allow males to self-identify into women’s athletic categories.
Referencing the CCC’s FAQ on trans athletes, the ICONS representative points out a particular passage in which those who have an issue with gender self-identification are told they shouldn’t participate.
“If you are at a CCC event you are here to race your bike hard (or cheer on someone else who is), have a good time, and you are welcome as part of this big, goofy, oddball family … If you can’t do that without trivializing someone because they are different than you, then just stay home and enjoy the game on TV,” the FAQ reads.
The ICONS spokeswoman takes issue with the framing, and labels it misogynistic.
“Presenting old-fashioned misogyny as something their ‘goofy, oddball family’ does to ‘have a good time’ is insulting to female riders who suffer profound harm from being told that their accomplishments don’t matter, and they must take a backseat to the preferences of men,” she says.
Both Johnson and Williamson have been racing in women’s cycling for years, with Williamson collecting 18 first place titles in races across the country since 2017.
In September, Reduxx reported that Johnson and Williamson competed as a team in two separate women’s races in Illinois, taking first place in both of them. During one of the competitions, Williamson and Johnson competed under the team name “TS-ESTRODOLLS,” a reference to cross-sex hormones.
Johnson and Williamson celebrated their initial first place win on August 27 after their victory at the xXx Racing-Athletic Relay Cross in Chicago. The two men surpassed nine pairs of women for first place.
Just days later on August 31, Johnson and Williamson beat out two teams of women at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome during the State Championship in Madison.
Williamson is reportedly in a polyamorous relationship with Austin Killips, another trans-identified male cyclist who has become notorious for his frequent participation in women’s competitions. Killips has similarly taken several first place wins in women’s categories and has forced at least one woman out of the sport after targeting her with physical aggression during a race.
UPDATE 10/9/2023: This article has been updated to include comment from the Independent Council on Women’s Sports.
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