Gender reassignment cyclist wins scratch race at Dutch track championships
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Gender reassignment cyclist wins scratch race at Dutch track championships

by Conal Andrews at 9:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Track
Several weeks after the topic of the gender of athletes was brought to prominence by the 800 metre world athletics champion Caster Semenya, a transsexual cyclist has taken gold at the Dutch track championships.

34 year old Natalie van Gogh triumphed in the scratch race on Sunday, four years after officially becoming a woman through gender reassignment surgery. “It is a private matter, but I am not ashamed of it,” she said after the race, according to ANP. “I understand that people find this a remarkable success but for me it is a normal story.”

Van Gogh is a member of the Swabo Ladies cycling team and had mixed reactions when she started competing in the sport. She faced some claims that it was unfair for her to race with other women, but rejects the notion that she has any advantage.

“I came to cycling because I was too heavy after the operation,” Van Gogh said. “First I walked, then took up mountain biking and then cycling. Behind my back people say everything…for example, that I have a lot more testosterone in my body [than her competitors]. That is absolutely not the case. And it is not so often that I win.”

Eva Heijmans was one of those she beat on Sunday. She isn’t fixated on the background of the gold medallist. “For me she is just a competitor, I don’t think anything further about it,” she said.

Van Gogh works as a software engineer, but says she also trains hard. “I do just as much as the other girls, perhaps even more. I live like a professional athlete.”

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