What makes a woman? - Women's Edition Podcast

Welcome to the Cyclingnews Podcast Women's Edition brought to you in association with Sportful, Pinarello and Floyd's of Leadville.

In this episode Kirsten Frattini, women’s editor at Cyclingnews, speaks with former cyclist and human rights activist Kristen Worley, who just released her memoir, "Woman Enough - How a boy became a woman and changed the world of sport."

We take an in-depth look at the guidelines set in place by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for transitioned females and the new regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for females with differences of sex development (DSD), that will be implemented on May 8 after a lengthy appeal at the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in the Caster Semenya vs IAAF appeal.

We highlight the problems and controversies surrounding the rules, and the need for more scientific research and medical expertise when creating policy for these individuals. We also take a look back at the evolution of gender verification testing from the so-called 'nude parades' to 'sex-testing' and the current forms of testosterone testing used today.

Part of our discussion circles around how old ideologies have impacted women in sports, including cycling. And we discuss how policies have affected athletes’ human rights.

Worley fully transitioned, having undergone sex-reassignment surgery, in her late 20s. She was forced to undergo gender verification processes to obtain a licence to compete in cycling as a woman.

She went on to challenge the IOC along with the World Anti-doping Agency, UCI, Cycling Canada and the Ontario Cycling Association, outside of the CAS, in the court of civil law at the Superior Court of Justice and then the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in Toronto.

Her case brought attention to the lack of scientific research behind the policies, practices and protocols in place for transgendered and cisgender women with higher testosterone levels. She also demonstrated how the IOC's guidelines filter down through the international federations, such as the UCI, and into the national and provincial rules at the lower levels of sport.

Worley currently gives educational discussions around the world on the subject of diversity and inclusion in sport. She also acts as a consultant on human rights to The Cyclists’ Alliance founded by Iris Slappendel.

To learn more about the debate surrounding the "IOC Consensus Meeting on Transgender Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism" guidelines for such individuals competing in sport, testosterone uptake, and controversial gender verification practices read our in-depth feature Policing Gender Boundaries.

Update: The UCI introduce stricter requirements for transgender female athletes to compete in the women's category, with the testosterone threshold reduced to 5nmol/l in updated 2020 guidelines.

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Kristen Worley.

Kirsten Frattini is the Women’s Editor at Cyclingnews and holds a volunteer seat as the Chairperson of the High Performance Committee at Cycling Canada for a two-year term ending in 2020.

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Kirsten Frattini
Women's Editor

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.