When it comes to competitive sports you can forget the adage ‘it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts’, consign that phrase to the scrapheap and prepare for a backlash if you’re going to be a sore loser. No one likes cry babies.
This is exactly what happened when the third place finisher of the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles last Sunday (October 14), was caught complaining on Twitter about her result after finishing behind the winner of the race, a transgender woman.
Bronze medalist, Jen Wagner-Assali, 38, got embroiled in the Twitter feud, suggesting Rachel McKinnon, an assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, 36, was not deserving of taking the gold medal.
‘I was the 3rd place rider. It’s definitely NOT fair,’ Wagner-Assali wrote on the social media platform, replying to none other than all round big mouth, Katie Hopkins.
Following a backlash from Twitter users, Wagner-Assali apologised for her comments on the race, the Daily Mail reports.
After having some time to reflect, I realize my twitter comments earlier this week unintentionally fanned the flames on a controversial situation, and that I regret. [sic]
I made the comments out of a feeling of frustration, but they weren’t productive or positive.
Winner, Rachel McKinnon, was supported in her victory by second place finisher, Carolien van Herrikhuyzen, who said Wagner-Assali shouldn’t have taken part in the race if she had a problem.
After having some time to reflect, I realize my twitter comments earlier this week unintentionally fanned the flames on a controversial situation, and that I regret. I made the comments out of a feeling of frustration, but they weren't productive or positive.
— jen wagner-assali (@jkwagnermd) October 18, 2018
van Herrikhuyzen wrote:
No one is a transgender to steal anyone’s medal. We had an honest race under UCI rules. If you compete you accept the rules, otherwise, don’t compete.
I can only imagine what she had to go through in her life to be where she is now, how hard it is to fit in.
Wagner-Assali then stated:
Just because it’s a CURRENT UCI rule doesn’t mean it[‘s] fair or right. And rules can be changed. [sic]
After being called out, Wagner-Assali tried to row back, saying she should have been a better sport:
They were just inflammatory, and that’s not who I want to be or am. While I may not agree with the rules, when I pin on a number I agree to race by them.
I also respect @rachelvmckinnon ‘s right to compete within the rules.
I'm sure there are men who don't agree with the USA cycling rule that women can enter their races, which I do all the time. I appreciate those that have reached out to support me, but please stop directing hateful or derogatory comments toward Rachel or trans people in general.
— jen wagner-assali (@jkwagnermd) October 18, 2018
However, Wagner-Assali’s apology also suggested she held the view McKinnon was not female and her participation in the race was similar to a male competing.
I’m sure there are men who don’t agree with the USA cycling rule that women can enter their races, which I do all the time.
I appreciate those that have reached out to support me, but please stop directing hateful or derogatory comments toward Rachel or trans people in general.
At the end of the day, we are all just people trying to find our way in this world. I’m going to continue educating myself and hope this conversation continues in an open and positive way.
McKinnon responded accordingly, retweeting Wagner-Assali’s non-apology apology, explaining why she could not accept it:
This is why the apology is not accepted: she still thinks what she said. She merely apologizes for being caught saying it publicly.
She wants to ban trans women from competing. They will fail: the IOC openly allowed us in 2003 and revised their policies in 2015. #MoveOn.
Here is a THREAD on some of my thoughts tonight on recent news of two competitors 'protesting' or complaining about my participation as a trans woman. https://t.co/RZMN9AiqOo
— Dr. Rachel McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) October 19, 2018
I’ve been humiliated, they make me feel unwelcome at races, and saying that it’s unfair (when I follow all the rules) is degrading and disparaging.
Trans women are women. We must compete as women. We have rights, too.
White people thought it was UNFAIR for black people to compete in sport. The very same tactics are being used against trans women athletes.
The world governing body, Union Cycliste International, released a statement on Friday which read:
Although there are no queries concerning Women-Men (W-M) transgender athletes, whose situation – at UCI level as for all International Federations (IF) – is controlled by therapeutic use exemptions (TUE), the current situation concerns M-W transgenders.
After some 18 months of substantial work, and after consultation with the IFs, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should shortly announce guidelines covering the participation of M-W transgender athletes.
This document should enable us to take into consideration, in line with the evolution of our society, the desire of these people to compete while at the same time guarantee as far as possible an equal chance for all participants in women’s competitions.
The UCI will adapt its regulations according to the guidelines of the IOC.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 9am until 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am until 6pm Saturday, Or email [email protected]
Tim Horner is a sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated with a BA Journalism from University College Falmouth before most his colleagues were born. A previous editor of adult mags, he now enjoys bringing the tone down in the viral news sector.