Athlete criticised for switching to female category after transition

Long Lunch 27/03/2018
Photo: Facebook.

After transitioning to female, Kate Weatherly is now receiving criticism for her switch to the women’s downhill mountain biking category.

Ms Weatherly told Wendyl Nissen that she had spoken to Cycling New Zealand for months before switching to the female category.

Ms Weatherly had competed for years in the men's open division up until December 2017. In January, she competed as a woman for the first time for the National Downhill Series.

Cycling NZ requires transgender female athletes to prove their testosterone level has been below 10 nmol/L (nanomoles per litre) for at least one year prior to first competition. These are the same guidelines that were set by the International Olympic Committee in 2015.

As Ms Weatherly's transition began when she was just 17, her testosterone levels were well below the maximum threshold.

She has since received attention from the public and fellow athletes, some showing support and others criticising her category as unfair on the other female competitors.  

I don’t identify as a trans person – I identify as a woman.

She noted that one competitor did “a full 180” in her support after Ms Weatherly started competing – and winning – New Zealand’s downhill biking competitions.

“I’m surprised at the people who’ve had problems with me,” she said, as she initially made switched categories after receiving so much support.

Others have argued that Ms Weatherly should be in a ‘gender neutral’ category.

“It feels really devaluating of my gender identity,” Ms Weatherly said of such suggestion. “I don’t identify as a trans person – I identify as a woman.”

“It’s part of my history but it’s not who I am.”

She told Nissen that while she has won national competitions, she has lost in several international events against athletes who train similarly to her.

New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has faced similar battles against her rivals.

Some of Hubbard’s rival coaching staff have questioned whether she has an unfair psychological advantage, having previously lifted heavier weights as a man.

Nevertheless, Hubbard will compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.

Listen to the full interview with Kate Weatherly above. 

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.