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NY Times Article about Transgender Athletes

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Madison02:
As a transgender athlete, and specifically a cyclist, I've been doing a ton of research on the effects of HRT on athletic performance. There is a lot of proven scientific data out there on how devastating those effects truly are. On the plus side, the UCI has released an updated version of its transgender policies, which I'm glad to see that they are continuing to work on ways to make the sport more inclusive to all. Additionally, USA Cycling actually has a really fair policy in as much as the athlete can self-select the gender category they identify as, up through Cat 3. At that point the more restrictive UCI policies are used as guidelines and hormone levels and other considerations need to be adhered to for racing in one's selected gender.
I've ridden for years, and this will be my first full year as a transgender athlete, as well as my first year to race as such. So far the talks I've had with others in the cycling world have been positive, so I'm looking forward to living my truth both off AND on the bike!

Jenny_Oh:
Oh no! People simply don't understand. They truly don't, and I get it. If you're a cis-male/female you don't understand how somebody could be XX/XY and yet identify with the opposite gender to their genetic sex. How could they? It's like asking somebody that is color blind to see that red is green! <wow> sometimes it's hard enough for those of us that are transgender to see it, even when it's staring us in the face!  :o :o That's because like every other phenotype, gender is a product of genetics and environment and our environment (society) doesn't allow much flexibility when it comes to gender expression.

Oh, just look at the case of Caster Semenya. How does society treat people who are deviant? Even the most powerful sporting bodies in the world have no idea what to do. Ostracize them! Make rules against them! Make then outcast! Because the history of that type of behaviour is so successful. One day the world will get this right, maybe. But we're a long way away from this yet.

Iztaccihuatl:

--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 21, 2020, 12:10:51 am ---As a transgender athlete, and specifically a cyclist, I've been doing a ton of research on the effects of HRT on athletic performance. There is a lot of proven scientific data out there on how devastating those effects truly are. On the plus side, the UCI has released an updated version of its transgender policies, which I'm glad to see that they are continuing to work on ways to make the sport more inclusive to all. Additionally, USA Cycling actually has a really fair policy in as much as the athlete can self-select the gender category they identify as, up through Cat 3. At that point the more restrictive UCI policies are used as guidelines and hormone levels and other considerations need to be adhered to for racing in one's selected gender.
I've ridden for years, and this will be my first full year as a transgender athlete, as well as my first year to race as such. So far the talks I've had with others in the cycling world have been positive, so I'm looking forward to living my truth both off AND on the bike!

--- End quote ---

Madison,

It is great to hear that you will be able to continue with your passion for cycling through and after transition! Please let us know how you are doing in your races and if you encountered any pushback from competitors.

I would be interested to learn more on the actual impact of HRT on your athletic performance. How much has the loss of muscle mass slowed you down in comparison to benchmarks from previous years? Have you done anything specific to counter that hormone induced muscle mass loss, like specific weight training?

I wish you the best of luck for your upcoming races and please let us know how you did!

Heidemarie

Madison02:

--- Quote from: Iztaccihuatl on February 21, 2020, 11:06:07 am ---Madison,

It is great to hear that you will be able to continue with your passion for cycling through and after transition! Please let us know how you are doing in your races and if you encountered any pushback from competitors.

I would be interested to learn more on the actual impact of HRT on your athletic performance. How much has the loss of muscle mass slowed you down in comparison to benchmarks from previous years? Have you done anything specific to counter that hormone induced muscle mass loss, like specific weight training?

I wish you the best of luck for your upcoming races and please let us know how you did!

Heidemarie

--- End quote ---

Hi Heidemarie!

From what I can calculate at this time, I'd say I'm currently experiencing an 11-13% drop in performance compared to my pre-HRT levels. From what I've understood, the typical range is 10-20% loss, so I guess I'm falling right in that benchmark  8). It's actually been really hard, beyond the obvious loss of performance, because I've been training harder than ever, putting in more work, and yet my numbers are still going down. It's been quite a mental battle, as well as physical. To literally feel weakness in muscles that once weren't too bad has been a very strange experience.

I've been doing lower body strength training, but I haven't been 100% consistent or focused on it. As a natural athlete, and someone who's done fairly well at most things, I guess I keep thinking that at some point everything will be fine and work itself out....that my inputs will eventually be reflected in my outputs. I'm realizing that that isn't going to be the case this time, or anymore going forward. So I need to get serious when it comes to doing additional strength and conditioning off the bike.

The other really big hurdle for me, has been simply acknowledging that my athletic gender (a term I learned from Joanna Harper) is now female; it's both awesome and scary. When signing up for my racing license and my first couple of races as "female",and seeing my name listed under the registered participants in the "women's" categories, it's massively intimidating to me. I've received a lot of support and encouragement from those that I ride with in my club, and online from others in the cycling community, but still.....I'll be honest and say I am slightly scared thinking about lining up for the first time in a few weeks.

I mean, if I'm being super honest at this point, a lot of it has to do with my own perceptions of myself and what "female" looks like. While I'm getting read a lot of times as such, I still don't see it when I look in the mirror...not to the extent that I feel warrants the reactions to me by the public as a woman. People I know have said I've changed a lot, physically, so I guess there is something to it....damn dysphoria, lol. But the point is, I have this nightmare-ish scenario running through my head that someone is going to go Austin Powers at some point and yell out......that's a man, baby!

I'm an athlete. I've competed in things all my life....sometimes on a national stage. I loathe cheaters, and want nothing more than a fair competition. It's why I've gotten my hormone levels down under the UCI requirements, even though USA Cycling rules state I don't have to be there! I don't want there to be any issues or appearances that I am somehow competing with an advantage. I know there will always be those that say transgender athletes have an inherent advantage, but I also know that science is on my side and has been proven to show any perceived advantages simply aren't there. If they were, transgender athletes would be dominating sporting events left, right, and center.

My first race is on March 14th, and my second race is on March 15th. I'll be glad to keep you updated on my results and experiences! Cheers!

Iztaccihuatl:

--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 23, 2020, 07:25:37 am ---Hi Heidemarie!

From what I can calculate at this time, I'd say I'm currently experiencing an 11-13% drop in performance compared to my pre-HRT levels. From what I've understood, the typical range is 10-20% loss, so I guess I'm falling right in that benchmark  8). It's actually been really hard, beyond the obvious loss of performance, because I've been training harder than ever, putting in more work, and yet my numbers are still going down. It's been quite a mental battle, as well as physical. To literally feel weakness in muscles that once weren't too bad has been a very strange experience.

--- End quote ---

Hi Madison,

To give you a quick background, my favorite past time is rowing. In my youth (15-28 years of age) I competed internationally at a very high level, but after retiring as an athlete I took a hiatus from rowing for some years, focused on raising a family and only in the last couple of years I took it up again and I have been competing as a masters athlete, mostly for fun. I am not on hormones yet, so any talk about joining the women's division is premature at this moment, but I certainly have given it some serious thought.

A 11-13% drop sounds about right, in the single that would put me pretty much at a comparable position in the women's field. I know how hard it is to watch ever dropping pace times, as I am getting older (I am in my mid 50ies) I need to get used to a slower pace, but the old numbers are still stuck in my head which makes it painful to watch. Adding HRT would be a double whammy! Looks like one needs to erase all prior knowledge of a good and 'normal' pace and really start all over from scratch.


--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 23, 2020, 07:25:37 am ---I've been doing lower body strength training, but I haven't been 100% consistent or focused on it. As a natural athlete, and someone who's done fairly well at most things, I guess I keep thinking that at some point everything will be fine and work itself out....that my inputs will eventually be reflected in my outputs. I'm realizing that that isn't going to be the case this time, or anymore going forward. So I need to get serious when it comes to doing additional strength and conditioning off the bike.

--- End quote ---

As I said, I think it is a matter of getting used to what is a typical performance for women of your age and taking that as a baseline you probably will see outputs that reflect your inputs. Also that sounds like as if HRT is not done yet reconfiguring your body...


--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 23, 2020, 07:25:37 am ---The other really big hurdle for me, has been simply acknowledging that my athletic gender (a term I learned from Joanna Harper) is now female; it's both awesome and scary. When signing up for my racing license and my first couple of races as "female",and seeing my name listed under the registered participants in the "women's" categories, it's massively intimidating to me. I've received a lot of support and encouragement from those that I ride with in my club, and online from others in the cycling community, but still.....I'll be honest and say I am slightly scared thinking about lining up for the first time in a few weeks.

--- End quote ---

How did your coming out in the club go, was everybody cool with it? Also, I assume you practiced primarily with the guys before coming out. Are you now practicing primarily with the women and at what moment did you switch (if you switched at all). Not sure if this question makes sense for cycling as I don't really know how a cycling club is run, but in rowing we usually practice in all male or all female lineups, although there are mixed gender events as well.


--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 23, 2020, 07:25:37 am ---I mean, if I'm being super honest at this point, a lot of it has to do with my own perceptions of myself and what "female" looks like. While I'm getting read a lot of times as such, I still don't see it when I look in the mirror...not to the extent that I feel warrants the reactions to me by the public as a woman. People I know have said I've changed a lot, physically, so I guess there is something to it....damn dysphoria, lol. But the point is, I have this nightmare-ish scenario running through my head that someone is going to go Austin Powers at some point and yell out......that's a man, baby!

--- End quote ---

I am totally with you on this one, sis. This is actually my biggest concern, that at the first event I register in the women's division there will be a huge stink. The rowing community is small and you meet the same folks at the same regattas year after year, so we kinda know each other and me changing name and gender would be the gossip of the day, so there is no way of flying under the radar. Athletes are competitive people by nature and as soon as they smell a perceived disadvantage they will cry foul very quickly. Especially if I happen to win.


--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 23, 2020, 07:25:37 am ---I'm an athlete. I've competed in things all my life....sometimes on a national stage. I loathe cheaters, and want nothing more than a fair competition. It's why I've gotten my hormone levels down under the UCI requirements, even though USA Cycling rules state I don't have to be there! I don't want there to be any issues or appearances that I am somehow competing with an advantage. I know there will always be those that say transgender athletes have an inherent advantage, but I also know that science is on my side and has been proven to show any perceived advantages simply aren't there. If they were, transgender athletes would be dominating sporting events left, right, and center.

--- End quote ---

US Rowing has a similarly progressive policy towards trans athletes, which is a good thing. FISA, the international governing body does not have their own policies, but they do follow the IOC's policies as they apply to the Olympics.

If I start HRT at some point in the future, I'll probably limit myself initially to fours and eights in the men's division or take a year of absence, maybe becoming a referee instead for a while which would allow me to remain part of the rowing community without competing. Only after my testosterone levels have been in the female range for a year would I apply for a gender change with US Rowing and then start in the female division. At that point nobody has a chance of challenging my status as a female athlete.


--- Quote from: Madison02 on February 23, 2020, 07:25:37 am ---My first race is on March 14th, and my second race is on March 15th. I'll be glad to keep you updated on my results and experiences! Cheers!

--- End quote ---

Good luck with your races and please let me how you did and how everything worked out!

We are still primarily on the rowing machines (called ergs) and we have our last erg competition this weekend. We haven't been doing much on the water yet due to safety concerns over low water temps and also due to early darkness until we switch to daylight saving time. Our first on-water regatta will be in late April.

Hugs,

Heidemarie

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