Controversy erupts in wake of anti-trans protest at cyclocross nationals

The protesters' presence at the national championships comes just weeks ahead of the UCI world cyclocross championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Controversy erupted this weekend at the U.S. national cyclocross race in Illinois after a handful of anti-trans protesters held signs opposing the participation of transgender athletes.

According to a report on CyclingTips, the protesters held signs reading, “Say no to males competing as females” and “woman = adult human female.”

The protesters’ presence at the national championships comes just weeks ahead of the UCI world cyclocross championships scheduled for January 29-30 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Transgender issues have already fractured the U.S. cyclocross community after the Arkansas legislature passed anti-trans legislation in February, prompting cycling brands and activists to push for a boycott of the state and any events held there, including October’s World Cup, as well as cyclocross worlds.

Many within the cycling community reacted strongly to the protesters who showed up nationals last weekend, and took to social media to voice their opinions.

Molly Cameron posted a lengthy message on Instagram.

“Hate has no place in cycling,” Cameron wrote. “The complete failure in action on Sunday again demonstrates that cycling still does not understand what creating safe spaces and allyship actually means.”

Austin Killips (Pratt Racing), a transgender woman who finished 10th in Sunday’s women’s elite race, said in an Instagram post that she felt love and support from fans at the race near her hometown of Chicago.

Killips added, “that’s probably not gonna be the case for the next person if we allow this behavior to continue. Racers should not be subjected to targeted harassment and I will fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening to others.”

The demonstrators were part of a group calling themselves “Save Women’s Sport,” which claims on its website to be “a coalition that seeks to preserve biology-based eligibility standards for participation in female sports.”

The group said it was formed in 2019, and among its ambassadors listed on its web page is Jennifer Wagner-Assali, a cyclist who finished third to Veronica Ivy (formerly Rachel McKinnon), who became the first transgender world champion when she won the 2018 women’s master’s world championship (35-44 age bracket).

It was not exactly clear where the protesters were standing or how many attended the event in Illinois last weekend.

According to a post on the group’s Twitter account, one picture showed five individuals holding signs near what appeared to be a neon sign welcoming the event, held at Cantigny Park, next to the Cantigny Golf Course, in Wheaton, Illinois.

Reporters from VeloNews covering the event said they did not see the protesters during the single-speed race on Saturday, or on the front half of the course all day Sunday.

The presence of the protesters, however, quickly played out across social media.

Some took to Twitter to criticize USA Cycling, which sanctioned the event, for inaction during the event. USA Cycling has yet to react publicly.