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People would be "calling her a man" – Transgender cycling champ in online row with Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies

Dr Rachel McKinnon, the first transgender women's champion in any sport, posted picture of British Olympic medallist to Twitter...

A Canadian cyclist who made headlines around the world last year after becoming the first transgender athlete to win a world title in any sport has hit back at comments made about her by Sharron Davies – by posting a picture to Twitter of the former Olympic swimmer and saying that saying that nowadays, people would be “calling her a man.”

Dr Rachel McKinnon, who won the 200 metres world title in the 35-44 women’s sprint category at the UCI Masters Track World Championships last October, was responding to comments made by Davies in recent days that transgender women “have a male sex advantage” when competing in women’s sport.

Today, she tweeted a photo of Davies and asked how the two-time Commonwealth swimming champion and winner of an Olympic silver medal at Moscow in 1980 might be perceived nowadays.

Davies had shared her thoughts on Twitter last week about transgender athletes born as men competing against women, after Martina Navratilova said it was tantamount to “cheating” – with the 18-time tennis grand slam singles winner later apologising for her comments after being accused of transphobia.

It’s clearly an emotive subject that polarises opinion on both sides, and in recent days Davies has repeatedly defended her position on Twitter, as well as in the mainstream media.

A number of replies to her posts on the social network have highlighted transgender athletes competing in women’s sport and the unfair advantage some people believe they have.

Meanwhile, other women’s sports stars have also shared their thoughts on the issue, such as Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe saying that she believes tougher rules are needed regarding transgender athletes.

A tweet from McKinnon last October after she won her UCI women’s Masters title sparked a heated online debate about whether it was fair for someone born as a man to compete in the event.

An assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, McKinnon defended her right to participate, pointing out that she did not qualify fastest in the event and that she finished fourth in the time trial.

She also highlighted that in order to compete, she was “forced to have an unhealthily endogenous testosterone value,” adding that she is “an internationally recognized expert on the science and ethics of transgender inclusion in sport.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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