A cycling organization decided to open a third competitive category that would allow transgender racers following backlash after a man won a race in the women’s division.
The Belgian Waffle Ride is a cycling competition that describes itself as being “created in homage to the great one-day classics of Europe with their cobblestone sectors … long, hard, multi-terrain races that test the best of the best.”
Often hosting events across North America, the organization held a race in Hendersonville, North Carolina, on June 10, 2023. However, the “BWR N. Carolina” saw a man win the “Women Overall” category, as reported by TimCast.
A man named Austin Killips took first place in the women’s competition with a finishing time of 8h 28m 07.47s. Comparatively, had Killips competed against men, he would have finished in 22nd place with the same time.
After the event, BWR said it received a plethora of complaints for allowing a man to compete against women. The organization described the backlash as “feedback” in a Facebook post.
“Since our first Belgian Waffle Ride event, we’ve strived to create as fair, inclusive, and unique a world-class experience as possible. We firmly believe that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, creed, color, sexual orientation, and sexual identification, possesses the inherent right to participate in our activities,” BWR wrote.
“In keeping with our values and in response to feedback that we recently received from some cyclists after our most recent North Carolina race, we are reviewing our registration and competition rules,” BWR added. “We will consult with many of you as well as sponsors, volunteers, staff, other stakeholders, and relevant international regulatory bodies to identify best practices in this area.”
On July 9, 2023, BWR announced on Instagram that it would be moving forward with a third category, open to anyone. The classifications were listed as follows:
- “Female: In the interest of protecting the parity of sports between women and men, racers who were born female may compete in the classification.
- Male: Racers who were born and/or identify as male may compete in this classification.
- Open: All racers, regardless of gender identification, may compete in this classification.”
The company also stated that organizers “are committed to ensuring that all participants have equal access and opportunities to participate in our cycling events in a fair manner.”
As well, BWR said it will “award equal amounts of prize money for each of these three categories.”
According to outlet Reduxx, this wasn’t the first time Killips raced against and beat women. He reportedly placed first in the Tour of the Gila, an event the outlet described an internationally known, top-tier cycling competition.
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