Veronica Ivy

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Veronica Ivy
Ivy discussing transgender women in sport on her YouTube channel in 2017
Born1982 (age 41–42)
Occupation(s)Cyclist, activist, philosopher

Veronica Ivy (born 1982), formerly Rachel McKinnon, is a Canadian competitive cyclist and transgender rights activist.[1] In 2018, she became the first transgender world track cycling champion by placing first at the UCI Women's Masters Track World Championship for the women's 35–44 age bracket.

Early life and education

Ivy is from Victoria, British Columbia.[2] She earned a bachelors of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Victoria (2005) and completed her PhD from University of Waterloo in Philosophy in 2012,[3][4] with a thesis entitled "Reasonable Assertions: On Norms of Assertion and Why You Don't Need to Know What You're Talking About".[5]

Ivy has said she first began thinking she might be transgender when she was thirteen, but took sixteen more years to "come to terms with it". She started transitioning near the time she was finishing her doctorate, and came out "two days after I defended my dissertation."[6] She wrote to her students to tell them that she was transgender on 2 May 2012.[7]

Ivy was an associate professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.[1][4] She earned tenure in March 2019, and became an associate professor in August the same year.[8]

Ivy's primary research focus is the philosophy of language. The majority of her published work is about the norms of the speech act of assertion,[3] pre-eminently her 2015 monograph The Norms of Assertion: Truth, Lies, and Warrant (Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-137-52172-9). Another focus of her work is feminism and feminist philosophy, particularly issues relating to gender and queer identities.[3]

Media career

Ivy has written articles on transgender and intersex issues for outlets including NBC News,[9] Vice,[10] and Newsweek.[11]

Athletic career

Prior to moving to the College of Charleston, Ivy played badminton. Lacking a strong badminton scene at Charleston, Ivy developed an interest in sport cycling.[6] On 12 October 2018, she won the world 200-meter sprint record for women in the 35–39 age range,[12] and the next day won the UCI Masters World Track Cycling Championship in the Women's Sprint 35–44 age bracket, becoming the first transgender world champion in track cycling.[13][14][15]

Some in the sports world expressed their belief that her birth sex gave her an unfair advantage.[16] American cyclist Jennifer Wagner, who finished third (bronze), said Ivy's birth sex gave her physiological advantages.[17] The second-place (silver-medal) winner, Dutch athlete Caroline van Herrikhuyzen, supported Ivy.[18] Ivy argued that there was no evidence that being born male gave an advantage in the race and that she had lost to Wagner in the past.[19] British columnist Katie Hopkins wrote that the decision to allow Ivy to compete was evidence that "the world is gripped by a febrile madness".[20] Tennis player Martina Navratilova said that allowing people born male to compete in women's sports was "insane" and "cheating".[21] Ivy criticized Navrátilová's comments as transphobic.[22]

Ivy cited one of the fundamental rules of the International Olympic Committee that the practice of sport is a human right.[1] Her participation in the competition was consistent with rules in force since 2003.[23] Some commentators[who?] felt that Ivy had an advantage because of her size and muscle mass. Ivy objected to this criticism: she must keep her testosterone level low as a prerequisite for her participation in sports competitions.[23]

2019 cycling time trial

In an October 2019 time trial, Ivy broke the record for the 200-meter sprint for females aged 34–39.[24]

In response, she received a number of death threats, and was targeted on Twitter by Donald Trump Jr.[25] In December 2019, she wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about this experience.[24][26][27] Ivy changed her name from Rachel McKinnon with an announcement on Twitter on December 4, 2019 [28]


In August 2019, in relation to the death of American billionaire David Koch, Ivy tweeted that "it's okay to be happy, even celebrate, when bad people die".[29][30] A respondent, believing Ivy to be alluding to the terminal illness of Magdalen Berns, asked if Ivy "thought it was OK to celebrate the death of a young person suffering from an incurable brain tumor" (quoting the account of the Charleston The Post and Courier). Ivy replied: "if they're a trash human actively trying to harm marginalized people because of who they are? I think it's justified". The exchange provoked a petition by over 500 signatories seeking Ivy's public apology.[8][30]


  1. ^ a b c "Transgender women in sport: Are they really a 'threat' to female sport?". BBC Sport. 18 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Transgender Canadian woman sets off debate after winning cycling world championship". CBC. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "McKinnon, Rachel - College of Charleston". Archived from the original on 1 June 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b 'Rachel McKinnon', The Conversation.
  5. ^ Rachel McKinnon, "Reasonable Assertions: On Norms of Assertion and Why You Don't Need to Know What You're Talking About" (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Waterloo, 2012).
  6. ^ a b Fred Dreier, "Q&A: Dr. Rachel McKinnon, masters track champion and transgender athlete", VeloNews (15 October 2018).
  7. ^ Rachel McKinnon, "Coming Out in Class", The Chronicle of Higher Education (25 June 2012).
  8. ^ a b Schiferl, Jenna (29 August 2019). "The tweet heard 'round the world: Charleston professor sparks global Twitter debate". The Post and Courier. Evening Post Industries.
  9. ^ Ivy, Veronica (20 December 2019). "J.K. Rowling's Maya Forstater tweets support hostile work environments, not free speech". NBC News. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  10. ^ Ivy, Veronica (19 December 2019). "The U.K. Has a Transphobia Problem and J.K. Rowling Is the Latest Offender". Vice. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  11. ^ McKinnon, Rachel (6 May 2019). "Caster Semenya Decision is Wrongheaded and Discriminates Against Elite Female Athletes". Newsweek. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  12. ^ A. C. Shilton, "Transgender Track World Champion Defends Her Human Right—To Race", Bicycling (4 January 2019).
  13. ^ Fred Dreier, 'Commentary: The complicated case of transgender cyclist Dr. Rachel McKinnon', VeloNews (18 October 2018).
  14. ^ Dreier, Fred (15 October 2018). "Q&A: Dr. Rachel McKinnon, masters track champion and transgender athlete". Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  15. ^ Alex Ballinger, "Rachel McKinnon Becomes First Transgender Woman to Win Track World Title", Cycling Weekly (17 October 2018).
  16. ^ "Transgender Track World Champion Defends Her Human Right—To Race". 4 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Transgender women in sport: Are they really a 'threat' to female sport?". 18 December 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Transfrau erntet Hass für Sieg bei Bahnrad-WM". 16 October 2018.
  19. ^ "Rachel McKinnon becomes first transgender woman to win track world title". Cycling Weekly. 18 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Commentators clash over controversial first transgender world champion", nzherald (16 October 2018).
  21. ^ "Martina Navratilova criticised over 'cheating' trans women comments". 17 February 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  22. ^ "Martina Navratilova ignites transgender athlete debate, calling it 'cheating'". Stuff. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Gold an Rad-WM: Trans-Frau Rachel McKinnon im BLICK-Interview - Blick". 31 October 2018.
  24. ^ a b Holmes, Juwan J. (7 December 2019). "Champion cyclist Rachel McKinnon opens up about challenges of being a transgender competitor". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  25. ^ O'Kane, Caitlin (22 October 2019). "Transgender cyclist defends her world championship win after Donald Trump Jr. calls it "BS"". CBS News. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  26. ^ Baume, Matt (22 October 2019). "Donald Trump Jr. Is Mad About Trans Women Riding Bikes". Out. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  27. ^ McKinnon, Rachel (5 December 2019). "I Won a World Championship. Some People Aren't Happy". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  28. ^ @SportIsARight (4 December 2019). "Yup, officially changing my name from Rachel McKinnon to Veronica Ivy.Thank you for coming to my TED talk" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ @SportIsARight (23 August 2019). "It's okay to be happy, even celebrate, when bad people die" (Tweet). Retrieved 14 October 2019 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ a b Colleen Flaherty, "College Supports Trans Scholar Under Fire", Inside Higher Ed (3 September 2019).

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