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Pippa York calls for inclusion of LGBTQ community in sport

Joe Robinson
26 Nov 2019

Former rider opens up about her personal experiences of being transgender

Philipa York has called for greater inclusion of the LGBTQ community in sport after admitting her 'career as a cyclist was way too complicated to start transitioning.'

The retired winner of the 1984 Tour de France King of the Mountains jersey called upon governing bodies to do more in order to make the LGBTQ community accepted and more visible within cycling.

'We all know someone who is gay. Out of 10 friends, there's probably one person who is gay, and out of 20, there will definitely be someone who is LGBTQ. Why the world of sport is pretending to be a homogenous Disney Land is very strange,' wrote York in a column for I News.

'I think that it’s important young people are comfortable with who they are. There’s no shame in being LGBTQ. I think that’s important, and it needs spreading to the sporting world as well.

'The government and powers that be want people to be healthier, so queer people should be able to access sport without feeling intimidated or threatened, or like they’re unwelcome there.'

Referring back to her own career in the 1980s and 1990s, York labelled sport as having a 'straight, white narrative' which forced her to bury the issue of being transgender until retirement.

York then went through a 14-year transition period that she announced publicly in 2017 via a press release. Since then, York has returned into the public eye working as a commentator for ITV Cycling.

Having now fully transitioned into a woman, York also offered some first-hand experience of the process and how it can affect performance, notably the change in testosterone levels.

Much has been made of middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, whose irregular hormonal levels have seen her banned from competing as a woman.

York called the decision 'discrimination' after labelling the idea that transgender people could 'take over sport absolutely ridiculous' adding that Semenya was being punished for her natural gift.

'A lot of people think your testosterone levels are high if you are a transgender woman, but in fact, your testosterone levels crash.

'Competing as a trans person means you will actually struggle to be as strong, or as fast, as a cis-gender competitor. But that information doesn’t seem to be out there.

'In my case, I’m a menopausal 60-year-old, and I have the same level of strength as a gran. I would be around 30 per cent stronger if I hadn’t transitioned. For athletes at any age, there's a 20-25 per cent drop straight away.'

York wrote her column for I News on behalf of Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign for greater inclusion of the LGBTQ community in sport.

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