One of the people I met during my recent trip to Tucson was cyclist Jillian Bearden, who was in town for the El Tour de Tucson bike race and has founded the Transnational Women’s Cycling Team, the world’s first transgender cycling group that will make its debut in 2017
The El Tour de Tucson was conducted on Saturday, and I was happy to discover that Jillian made a little trans sporting history. While riding for SAGA (Southern Arizona Gender Alliance) in her first El Tour de Tucson, she won the women’s division 106 mile race in a time of 4:36.07.
And as you probably guessed, there were some haters spouting the same transphobic and sexist BS we hear any time a trans woman competes and wins in a sporting event.
The 36 year old Colorado Springs native is sponsored by the Colorado based Naked Women’s Racing and has been racing competitively for 10 years. Bearden has also been one of the people pushing for inclusion and change in the sport of cycling, and has been working with the International Olympic Committee, USA Cycling and other international cycling groups to make it happen.
“Last January, the IOC released a document that said you can compete if you fall under these criteria. With that being said, more policies are coming out, so there’s more work to be done to have acceptance worldwide and not just nationally.”
But as you probably guessed, she was thrilled to have won the El Tour, one of the largest participatory sporting events in southern Arizona in her first attempt. She also recognized the significance of this moment for the trans community.
“It’s absolutely huge,” Bearden said. “We’re at a moment in time – especially now – where not only do we have to come out but we have to be positive. We have to come together in solidarity and move the country in a direction that is accepting of all.”
Congratulations Jillian! This was an amazing accomplishment and another example of transpeople doing what they love and making history as they simply handle their business. It’s also another example of us accomplishing great things if we’re simply given an opportunity to do so.
Will we see Jillian at a future Tour de France or at the 2020 Olympics? Sure hope so.