Austin Killips says trans athletes are ‘statistically underrepresented’ despite ‘nature of the discourse’

Austin Killips, a transgender female cyclist, spoke out in an article over the weekend about the “nature of the discourse” surrounding transgender athlete participation in women’s sports, which Killips called “concerning,” adding that trans athletes are “statistically underrepresented” in sports.

Speaking to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Killips addressed the controversy surrounding trans athletes' participation in sports which seemingly came into focus with the emergence of former UPenn swimmer Lia Thomas’ during the 2021-2022 season. 

From left to right, Marion Norbert-Riberolle, Denise Betsema and Austin Killips pictured on the podium after the women's elite race of the “Kasteelcross” cyclocross cycling event, race 7/8 in the “Exact Cross” competition, Saturday Jan. 21, 2023 in Zonnebeke, Belgium. (DAVID PINTENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

“It's certainly concerning that the nature of the discourse, the amount of energy that has gone into building this narrative would lead you to believe that there's this massive number of trans athletes participating in sports and winning all the time, when the reality is that we're statistically underrepresented,” Killips told the outlet. “By the number, some of us do well, a lot of us do just fine, are just normal competitors.” 


“If the rules say trans people can play, then it doesn't mean that we can't win.”

Killips became the first transgender female to win a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) stage race after winning the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico back in April. The victory sparked an uproar on social media which prompted the UCI to defend Killips and its policy. 

Austin Killips at the USA Cycling's Pro Road National Championship

Austin Killips chats with other cyclist before the start of USA Cycling's Pro Road National Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sunday, June 25, 2023. (Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

“The UCI acknowledges that transgender athletes may wish to compete in accordance with their gender identity,” the organization said in a statement at the time.

“The UCI rules are based on the latest scientific knowledge and have been applied in a consistent manner. The UCI continues to follow the evolution of scientific findings and may change its rules in the future as scientific knowledge evolves.”


Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was among those to speak out against Killips’ victory, saying in a tweet: “this will happen more and more- women’s sports is NOT THE PLACE for trans identified male athletes.” 

Navratilova again spoke out on social media earlier this month when Killips finished in first place at the Belgian Waffle Ride in North Carolina, beating out the second place finisher by four minutes. 

“What a joke,” the former tennis star tweeted.

Killips seemingly suggested to the Knoxville News Sentinel that the outrage over trans athletes winning events seemed misguided when they are looked at as firsts.

“I do think there is this nature of when trans people do well at something, it's like, ‘Oh, man, this is the first time this has ever happened,” Killips said.

Austin Killips at the USA Cycling's Pro Road National Championship

Austin Killips, right, of nice bikes and Heidi Franz of DNA Pro Cycling are called up to the start line before the start of USA Cycling's Pro Road National Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee, Sunday, June 25, 2023. (Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)


“Historically, we've been around for quite a while and we have been doing things. I guess it is the first full stage race, but it's not an unprecedented thing for a trans person to win a UCI-level event,” Killips added, as it pertained to cycling.

Killips finished ninth at the USA Cycling Pro Road championships in Tennessee on Sunday over the weekend, according to the report.

“I feel like the toolbox I've had has felt a little shallow with sort of current state of things,” Killips told the outlet. “There are just certain things that will forever remain out of my control, and you just have to make peace with that reality. It can be difficult and frustrating at times, but at the end of the day, just trying to imbue the experiences and moments that bring you joy and holding on to those.”

Lia Thomas in the 500

Lia Thomas looks on from behind the blocks for the Women's 500 Yard Freestyle during the 2022 NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championship at the McAuley Aquatic Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology on March 17, 2022 in Atlanta. (Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Thomas’ participation in women’s swimming at the collegiate level placed transgender athletes' participation into the spotlight when in 2022, Thomas became the first transgender athlete to win a Division I championship in any sport, winning the 500-yard freestyle. 

Fox News’ Joe Morgan and Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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