When Rachel McKinnon won her 35-44 age group at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championship, she was overjoyed. And we at Outsports are happy for her and congratulate her on her accomplishment.
Leave it to a bunch of jerks on Twitter to use foul, cruel and often factually incorrect language to try to tear her down.
McKinnon is a trans woman, an athlete and an assistant professor at the College of Charleston. That she won in a women’s category drew a torrent of hateful reaction from people across social media that was almost entirely aimed at demeaning her existence and achievement.
The reaction stemmed from McKinnon proudly tweeting out this photo of herself along with the news of her victory:
First transgender woman world champion...ever.*— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) October 14, 2018
UCI Masters Track Cycling Women 35-44 Sprint@outsports @TheAdvocateMag @CofC @PinkNews @TheChrisMosier @BicyclingMag @velonews @gcntweet @glaad @TransMediaWatch @TransEquality @TransgenderNews @equalitynetwork pic.twitter.com/SD0HuS1Crv
That prompted over a thousand replies, many of which were disgusting and crude, and others of which made some completely absurd claims like McKinnon transitioning genders simply so she can win a competition.
Of course the idea that someone would transition genders for some kind of athletic advantage is absurd. Jessica Platt, the trans professional women’s hockey player, reiterated this in a recent interview.
“No one’s gonna choose to transition to a female just to have an advantage in a certain sport. Why would you theoretically want to have an advantage in a certain sport when you’re going to face so much discrimination?”
The underlying claim of virtually all of the responses was the absurd notion that every single man is faster and stronger than every single woman in the world. To be sure, some of the Tweeters had followers in the double digits. Yet others had thousands.
Some of the Twitter responses were unkind, but we are posting a small handful of them here to demonstrate not simply the lack of understanding or compassion for transgender athletes and trans people, but the venom with which that lack of understanding is delivered. Yes, trans people are still dealing with this in huge ways.
McKinnon, for her part, has been amazing through it all.
Or maybe they actually think it's fair (2nd place is a friend(). Don't objectify and use other women for your bigotry. https://t.co/k2XDTWIwm4— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) October 14, 2018
This is what the double-bind for trans women athletes looks like: when we win, it's because we're transgender and it's unfair; when we lose, no one notices (and it's because we're just not that good anyway). Even when it's the SAME racer. That's what transphobia looks like.— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) October 16, 2018