KNOXVILLE, TN – Female athletes, coaches, parents, and advocates joined Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), its grassroots Independent Women’s Network (IWN) Nashville Chapter, and the Inga Thompson Foundation on Sunday, June 25th, to rally for “Our Bodies, Our Sports” in protest of Union Cycliste International (UCI) and USA Cycling rules allowing male competitors in the women’s division.

IWF, IWN, and Inga Thompson Foundation held daily protest meetups along the course routes and ended the week with an “Our Bodies, Our Sports: Keep Women’s Cycling FEMALE” rally and press conference near the Title IX pioneer Pat Summitt’s statue and plaza on the campus of University of Tennessee. 

Click HERE to view official photographs from the rally.

In case you missed it, here’s what the media is saying:

WATE-6 (ABC) TV: Group protests transgender athletes following USA Cycling race in Knoxville

Protesters held a rally Sunday against the Union Cycliste International’s (UCI) policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in women’s cycling races. The rally happened after the USA Cycling Women’s Pro Road National Championship in Knoxville on Sunday. Riley Gaines, a former collegiate swimmer, said transgender athletes should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports. “This issue is important to me because I directly faced it. I saw how it affected not just myself, I saw how it affected every girl on that pool deck, yet they were scared to speak out,” she said. ” 

The Washington Times: Cyclist Austin Killips: Transgender athletes ‘statistically underrepresented’ in sports

The Independent Women’s Forum held an “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally Sunday outside the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to protest UCI and USA Cycling rules “allowing male competitors in the women’s division.” “There’s no equity, fairness, sportsmanship, or opportunity for women to succeed at an elite level without sex-based categories,” said 12-time All-American swimmer Riley Gaines. “Allowing male athletes like Austin Killips to compete in the women’s category is an infringement on female cyclists.” UCI initially defended its rules on transgender participation after Killips’ victory in New Mexico, but said a week later that its management committee would be “reopening” the issue by consulting with athletes and the national federations. U.S. cyclist Chloe Dygert won Sunday’s race, while Killips finished ninth and “just six seconds behind Dygert after leading the pack for much of the race,” said the IWF in a press release. The Independent Women’s Network is circulating a petition asking UCI and USA Cycling to “keep women’s cycling female.”

New York Post: Keeping trans women out of women’s sports is ‘hardest fight I’ve had’: Olympian

Today, the Pro Road Nationals kick off in Knoxville and cyclist Chloé Dygert will be competing against Killips. At stake is a spot in the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Dygert herself has been on the other end of the cancellation cattle prod: In 2020, she was dragged by her team’s sponsor Rapha, for the high crime of liking a Candace Owens tweet calling for protecting women’s spaces. Dygert issued a public apology. “Having spoken to her at length, we believe that Chloé has the capacity and the will to listen, learn and to change,” Rapha’s hostage statement read. Dygert has been quiet since. But in an encouraging sign, other female athletes, including Riley Gaines, Paula Scanlan — the former UPenn swimmer and teammate of trans woman Lia Thomas — and Thompson, are in her corner. On Sunday, they will be at a Knoxville rally Our Bodies Our Sports with the Independent Women’s Forum, protesting UCI and USA Cycling rules allowing biological men to compete in the women’s category. After all, it shouldn’t be incumbent on the competitors to shoulder the load alone.

OutKick: Taylor Silverman Will Join Riley Gaines In Protest At Women’s Cycling Championship 

Taylor Silverman will join Riley Gaines to protest Austin Killips competing in the women’s division of the 2023 USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships Sunday. Killips — a biological male —has been stealing podium spots and prize money from female athletes since he decided to compete in women’s events last year. Killips is racing in the 2023 USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships this weekend in Knoxville, Tenn. And a protest will be there waiting for him. The “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally is organized by the Independent Women’s Forum, Independent Women’s Network and the Inga Thompson Foundation. In addition to Silverman and Gaines, many other female athletes and media personalities have pledged to join the event. And they’re encouraging everyone in the area who cares about women’s sports to join them.

Glenn Jacobs: It was great to join an amazing, inspiring group of athletes at today’s 

@IWF @IWN rally supporting womens’ sports! @ithompsonfdn @Riley_Gaines_ @Jill_Savage @PaulaYScanlan @barbara_ehardt @paytonmcnabb_ @tmsilverman @wesleyroth @JasonZacharyTN

Caitlyn Jenner: Wish I was there with you all! As a father (of a lot of girls), an Olympian, and a trans person, I’d loveeeeeee to see the faces of the haters while standing with you amazing ladies! Go @Riley_Gaines_ @PaulaYScanlan @IWF listen up @usacycling

Oli London: A group of female athletes, members of  @IWF & @IWN attended the Women’s National Cycling Championships in Knoxville today holding banners including ‘Equality is not a Game’ and ‘Save Women’s Sports’ in protest to USA Cycling & UCI Cycling continuing to allow biological males to compete with women. During the cycling championship , transgender cyclist Austin Killips competed. Killips has won multiple women’s titles in recent months, including 1st place at the Tour of the Gila championships where he won a $35,000 prize intended for women. He also won a North Carolina championship just weeks ago claiming the $5000 women’s prize. 

Several athletes, coaches, elected officials, and advocates spoke at the rally. Here is what they had to say:

“USA Cycling and UCI are making a mockery of women. By allowing male-bodied competitors to compete at the elite level against the top female cyclists in the world – they are allowing top female cyclists on their courses to be sidelined — to lose opportunities and spots, awards, and dignity.  The American people know it’s gone too far. And with your support and your voice and the advocacy and impact of the women and men that will speak before you today – this will change. We will win. Because if we don’t, our great country will not only erase women and girls – it will destroy our progress, our international leadership, respect, and power,” said Adriana McLamb, spokeswoman for Independent Women’s Forum, former Division 1 volleyball player, and now coach to aspiring collegiate female volleyball players. 

“I want to deeply thank Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Network for allowing this to happen. I started this journey because I’m one of those girls who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Title IX. I spent my childhood hearing ‘women can’t,’ ‘there are no women’s sports,’ and I wanted the opportunities that boys and men had. We have fought too hard to let those go,” Inga Thompson, 10x US National Champion, 3x Olympian and 2x podium finisher in the Women’s Tour de France, said.

“In 2018, I was sitting as a brand-new state representative making posts about these biological men in Connecticut who were beating our women and girls, and nobody would stand up for them. I was walking around in prayer and contemplation thinking ‘somebody needs to do something.’ I’m a former D-1 athlete who spent fifteen years coaching Division 1 women’s basketball. It occurred to me that I needed to do something. Courage begets courage,” said former 15-year Division I Women’s Basketball coach and Idaho state Rep. Barbara Ehardt

“It is so fitting that we’re having this in the shadow of the Pat Summitt Plaza. Pat Summitt was one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, but more importantly, she was a pioneer for women’s sports. She created opportunities and boldly paved the way for the opportunities that Riley Gaines and hundreds of thousands of women athletes have today. It was this boldness, intensity, and passion that we have to have right now to protect the integrity of women’s sports,” Tennessee State Representative Jason Zachary said.

“Biology is not bigotry. Ultimately, these policies that claim to promote inclusion are really exclusive. They’re exclusive to the very girls Title IX was designed to protect. It shouldn’t take girls being injured in their sport like Payton, it shouldn’t take girls being exploited in the locker room, it shouldn’t take girls being asked to smile and step aside, allowing these men up to the podium, before we realize this is a problem,” Riley Gaines, 12x All American at the University of Kentucky and Advisor at Independent Women’s Voice, said.

“I’m a girl dad to two daughters. They excel at everything they put their minds to through hard work and determination. All I’ve ever wanted for them is fair ground because I know when they have that, they can do anything that they want to do. This is about more than sports. This is about standing on principle,” Mayor of Knox County Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs said. 

“In 2017, I was an athlete in Los Angeles at the UCI Worlds Master Track Championships, where the first male was awarded a woman’s title and world record for two consecutive years. Since that moment, I have continually found ways to speak out on behalf of my fellow female cyclists and I refuse to be silenced. UCI and USA Cycling, these policies that allow male competitors to claim awards and recognition meant for female athletes are wrong and need urgent reversal,” former NCAA cyclist Evie Edwards said.

“Recently, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked what she would tell parents who are concerned over their daughters’ safety if forced to play against a biological male. She suggested that the reporter was calling transgender children dangerous. I don’t expect the White House to take me up on my offer, but my parents and I are around if the White House wants to listen to my story. They might learn something,” joked three-sport athlete and junior spokeswoman for Independent Women’s Forum Payton McNabb

“In 2020 and 2021, I competed in skateboarding women’s divisions where males invaded. I was bumped out of first to second place twice and the last time, I had my paycheck cut because of it. This male athlete got $5,000 of the prize money that was intended for the women. I lost these tangible things, but what I want people to know is that these tangible losses pale in comparison to everything else that we’re being robbed of: respect, dignity, integrity in our sports, safety and privacy,” Taylor Silverman said.

“It is not fair, it is not safe, and it is not right for males to compete in women’s sports.  This is our third ‘Our Bodies, Our Sports’ rally. We were in D.C. and San Antonio, Texas, at the NCAA convention protecting and standing up for collegiate athletes. Now we’re in Knoxville because women’s cycling is under threat. We’re not going to stop until this ends,” Michelle Parker, chapter leader of Independent Women’s Network Nashville chapter, said. 

“As someone who has dedicated my life to sharing other people’s stories, I can tell you that women’s voices matter. Their stories matter, and they deserve to be told. If this trend continues, it’s not going to be a few transgender athletes; it’s going to be a ton of transgender athletes, and we want to make sure that women have a place to go,” said former Pac-12 Networks reporter Jill Savage. 

“I have sacrificed for my sport; I’ve been hit by two cars, I’ve broken so many bones, fractured my skull. I qualified three times for the Olympic trials, on and on. Would I do that if I’m going to be beaten by a man? No. Women are walking away from the sport; entire teams have quit. That’s what’s happening to women’s sports. So for all of you to be here and speak up is huge. Keep speaking up, keep fighting,” encouraged former U.S. National Team cyclist Mary Verrandeux


Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.

Independent Women’s Network, a project of Independent Women’s Voice, in partnership with Independent Women’s Forum, is a positive, supportive community of engaged, informed, and activated women working together to inspire, interact, influence, and have impact.