The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association is standing by a board member who condemned the participation of transgender people in women's bike races.
The association announced Dec. 9 that it will not remove Inga Thompson from its board of directors. Thompson, a former Olympic cyclist, in October was interviewed in an article for a website called Save Women's Sports titled, "Male Athletes Are Taking Over Women's Cycling." The website's founder, Beth Stelzer, says the article "was written by the Save Women's Sports team and not Inga."
In the post, which was first reported by BikePortland, Rachel McKinnon was criticized for winning a gold medal at the 2019 UCI World Masters Track Championship. The writers said that McKinnon, the first transgender world track cycling champion, didn't deserve to compete.
"This is the beginning of the end for women's sports," the article read. "We cannot allow this abuse of female athletes and mockery of women's sports to continue. It is not bigotry to defend biology, and it is not hate speech to defend your rights."
Included in the article was Thompson's proposal to create a separate racing category for transgender athletes.
Many people in Portland's biking community condemned Thompson's actions and demanded her removal from the board.
Rachel Cameron, owner of Portland bicycle repair shop Killer Queen Cyclery, launched a petition to have Thompson removed from the OBRA board. Cameron wrote that Thompson "circulated a petition containing misleading and blatantly false information about transgender athletes." She also claimed that Thompson allowed transphobic and vitriolic comments to remain on her article until confronted by OBRA members. The petition to have Thompson removed from the board of directors received 487 signatures.
It took OBRA more than a month to respond.
On Dec. 9, the group's board of directors announced that Thompson would not be removed from the governing body. In a statement, OBRA's board wrote that Thompson's proposal to create a separate category for transgender athletes, "does not pose a conflict of interest with the organization's rules, mission or statement of diversity."
It added that it "recognizes how some of Inga's actions and communications around this issue could be seen as problematic and hurtful to some in our community." And that it "feels that Inga's experience as a pioneer in women's cycling, including her personal experience of discrimination in sport, is an asset to the board."
OBRA claimed it would be working to educate itself "around these issues" via diversity, equity and inclusion training.
Thompson declined to comment on the petition to have her removed or the board's decision.
Correction, Dec. 11, 3:30 pm: An earlier version of this article referenced BikePortland's original reporting, which stated that Inga Thompson authored the article on Save Women's Sports. In fact, the website's founder tells WW, Thompson was interviewed for the article. She did circulate a petition that articulates the same viewpoint as the article. WW regrets the error.