A transgender cyclist was the top women’s finisher at an Arizona race over the weekend, besting the nearest female contender by less than one second.
Jillian Bearden, 36, became the first transgender athlete to win El Tour de Tucson in southern Arizona on Saturday, completing the 106-mile course with a time of 4 hours 36 minutes 7.71 seconds.
A Colorado Springs native who has been competing professionally for 10 years, Ms. Bearden, who identifies as a woman, said the win is “absolutely huge” for transgender people who wish to compete against athletes of the same gender identity.
“We’re at a moment of time — especially now — where not only do we have to come out but we have to be positive,” the cyclist told the Arizona Daily Star. “We have to come together in solidarity and move this country in a direction that is accepting of all.”
Anna Sparks, 35, placed second among women with a time of 4:36:8.38, according to unofficial results from the race posted online. The top overall time belonged to Hector Rangel, 36, at 4:10:47.12.
Ms. Bearden’s time ranked 38th among both male and female solo cyclists. She rode for the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance in order to promote transgender inclusion in cycling.
The win comes less than a year after the International Olympic Committee said transgender athletes should be able to compete in the Olympics and other international sporting events without undergoing sex-reassignment surgery.
An event organizer said transgender athletes have competed in El Tour de Tucson in previous years.