A transgender cyclist won first place at a female race in New York City amid ongoing debates over the inclusion of trans athletes in female competitions.
Tiffany Thomas, 46, who was born male, ended the Randall’s Island Crit cycling race atop the podium, blowing the competition out of the water to snatch first place.
Despite only taking up cycling in 2018, Tiffany quickly found success and has dominated competitions in the years since. She recently landed a place on top cycling team LA Sweat, where her oldest teammate is just 32.
But her frequent victories have caught the ire of some critics, and fellow athletes, who to question whether Thomas holds an unfair advantage in women’s sports.
Tiffany Thomas, center, took first place at the Randall’s Island Crit cycling race in New York City over the weekend
The 46-year-old has faced criticism from those that argue trans athletes hold an unfair advantage in women’s sports
Taking to Instagram following her latest triumph, Thomas said it ‘was a great day to play bikes with friends’.
‘Last race with our 2022 LA Sweat team kit. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it made me feel like a superhero when I wore it,’ she continued in a separate post.
Thomas, who works as a lab director according to her Instagram, is described in her LA Sweat team profile as ‘a scientist by day, athlete by night’.
‘You will never see anyone with a bigger smile than when she sees a beautiful electron microscopy picture of a red cell,’ the biography continues.
‘She has never met a barbell, a bike, or a dog that she doesn’t like. She is so incredibly excited to race and represent the LA Sweat team this year!’
But despite celebrating her win on social media, Thomas has been condemned by some online, with one fellow female cyclist tweeting her belief that Thomas is ‘cheating’.
‘Tiffany’s teammates are all between the ages of 24 and 32. Amazing that Tiffany can keep up with them at the age of 46 after only starting cycling at age 40!’ they added.
‘Tiffany Thomas has been on countless podiums, going from a total beginner to the elite level in just 5 years.’
‘I feel so bad for woman athletes in America that have trained their entire lives,’ said another critic.
‘We are destroying woman’s rights in America. They might as well just make every sport in this country co-ed. This is all so unfair. Every should live the way they want but there are sacrifices.’
The recent rise in transgender athletes in women’s cycling also led former champion rider Hannah Arensman to recently quit the sport after she missed out on a podium place to a trans cyclist.
‘At my last race at the recent UCI Cyclocross National Championships in the elite women’s category, I came in fourth, flanked on either side by male riders awarded third and fifth,’ she said in her retirement announcement.
‘My sister and family sobbed as they watched a man finish in front of me, having witnessed several physical interactions with him throughout the race.’
Thomas, pictured, said riding to her victory made her feel ‘like a superhero’, but other athletes have condemned the rise in transgender athletes in women’s cycling
Champion cyclist Hannah Arensman announced that she is retiring from professional cycling after being beaten out to a podium place by a transgender athlete
Several states have sought to ban transgender women from competing in female sports, citing studies that show they retain an unfair physical advantage even after transitioning.
The issue was thrust into the spotlight when trans swimmer Lia Thomas became an NCAA champion in March 2022. The contentious subject has since spread to female cycling competitions, with Thomas rising through the ranks after only taking up the sport aged 40.
In an interview from 2021, Thomas reveals that she came in fifth in her first event, but insists she was far from a natural when she first competed.
After befriending a fellow racer, the 46-year-old said she was convinced to join the ‘women’s development race’.
‘So I signed up for it, and it was amazing,’ she added. ‘But I sucked at it’.
Following that near-podium finish as a rookie, Thomas said her experience led her to immediately think: ‘I really want to do this’.
Thomas also spoke about resistance to her taking part in women’s sports, which she says has been ‘hurtful’.
After finishing in second place in the Doylestown Health Women’s pro in Pennsylvania in 2021, where she only lost out to former Olympian Paola Munoz, Thomas said one of the women who joined her on the podium blurred her out of her celebration picture.
‘The reason why this erasure was so hurtful to me is that I have had people tell me that I don’t belong,’ she added. ‘Fortunately, we have a community that has said that this is not ok’.
While advocates for trans athletes’ inclusion in female sports insist that fairness can be maintained, opponents assert that the physical advantage that they have over biological females cannot be undone.
Current and former athletes say trans athletes like Lia Thomas (left), the swimmer who enjoyed modest success in male categories before becoming a national champion in women’s events after she transitioned, highlight the physical advantages of trans women
Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Olympics in 2020
The issue has become a point of contention after several trans athletes have smashed women’s records in recent years, including Cece Telfer, who became the first openly trans woman to win an NCAA title when she placed first in the 400m hurdles at the Division II National Championships in 2019.
The following year, Laurel Hubbard, from New Zealand, became the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Olympics when she took part in weightlifting at the Tokyo games.
And after enjoying only modest success while competing in male categories, swimmer Lia Thomas gained national attention after she became the best female college swimmer at the NCAA championships in March 2022.
Tommy Lundberg, a lecturer in physiology at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and leading researcher on the subject, told DailyMail.com earlier this month: ‘The most important thing is whether or not you have benefited from male development and male puberty and if you’ve done that, you’re going to have advantages you cannot undo later.’
Cece Telfer became the first openly trans woman to win an NCAA title when she placed first in the 400m hurdles at the Division II National Championships in 2019 (pictured)
This view was also shared by Nancy Hogshead, a former pro swimmer who won three gold medals and one silver at the 1984 Olympics, who told DailyMail.com: ‘Trans women have an undeniable physical advantage.
‘Their bodies do what male bodies do when they go through puberty and is the reason why we segregate sports ubiquitously around the world.
‘Unless we’re talking about just playing, just recreational sports. All competitive sports is sex-segregated.’
Notably, trans figurehead Caitlyn Jenner, who won gold in the male decathlon at the 1976 Olympics before becoming one of the world’s best-known trans women, has also called Thomas’s success ‘anathema to what sports represents and the spirit of competition’.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk