Bike Life Voices: Kate Weatherly

My name is Kate, I'm 23 years old and I live in Auckland New Zealand. I like to consider myself a fairly outgoing person, often though I end up just being a bit loud (at least for a kiwi anyway). 

My life has been a bit all over the place in terms of interests, but I've always been a keen sportsperson.

Growing up I had a lung disease that damaged my lungs and kept me from being very good at sports, although this just meant I got very sick of people telling me things I couldn't do and I made an effort to try just about every sport I came across. Everything from archery to snowboarding. 

Eventually, I came across mountain biking and I've basically lived and breathed cycling since then (which was in around 2012). Although downhill mountain biking has been my main focus for many years I've dabbled in most other disciplines and I have a current focus on enduro mountain biking. I spent some of 2018 and most of 2019 competing in the UCI World Cup circuit for downhill and manage to get 2 podiums and many top 10 finishes. Aside from mountain biking I work as a medical device research assistant and am currently completing my masters. I love training and going to the gym and that fills up most of my time outside of university and work. 

What are your preferred pronouns?
My pronouns are She/Her

Being a transgender cyclist, what challenges have you faced in the industry?

As a trans woman I haven't faced many issues as a cyclist, I am privileged enough to pass relatively well some most people I see on the trails day to day don't realise I'm not cis, and those who do largely don't mind or care. However, as an athlete competing on the world stage, I have definitely faced my fair share of difficulties. Largely due to people's transphobia or ignorance understanding the biological changes that come with a medical transition. Many people have never met a trans person and don't understand or know about the changes that a medical transition causes, the loss of muscle size, muscle strength, the loss of red blood cell count, etc. I've tried my best to educate people and be compassionate to those whose preconceived ideas about trans people may think we have an unfair advantage (which both the current science and evidence suggests we don't). I generally deal with this following any good result (such as a win or a podium), which is ironic, I often complain that when I get good results its amazing but I always know the hate will follow soon after. No one seems to care when I'm not winning races. I also feel that I may have faced some extra difficulties getting support from sponsors since because my very place in the sport is controversial people may be less willing to support me, although I have no confirmation of this.

How important was it for you to find a place for yourself in the cycling industry (be job-wise or ride-wise)
I think I loved riding and I always will, and finding a place within the sport is very important to me. I've always wanted to be the best and it was very hard having people suggest I shouldn't be able to race, but for me, the most important thing is that I have friends who enjoy riding with me and that I can do what I love, and for the most part, the governing bodies are on my side (not the side of my opinion but the side of science and evidence) and while they are, I can keep racing.

When you podiumed at the world cup last year, how did that accomplishment make you feel?
My podium in Leogang was a real highlight, of my whole life really. I wasn't expecting such a good result so early in my season so it was a real surprise. I was happy and honestly, at the time I wasn't even thinking about what people might say about my result. I was also over the moon for Tracey Hannah, since she had been trying to get a World Cup win for a very long time and this was her first win in many years and I was pretty excited to see her finally get there. The whole day was pretty amazing.

What would you love to see happen in the industry to make it more inclusive to the lgbtqia+ and BIPOC communities?
I think the biggest steps for a riding community that is more accepting of LGBT people is really about a shift away from the often conservative views that make up much of riding community, although I think that's a view that impacts much of the cycling world. I think if everyone took the time to listen to each other and consider the viewpoints and experiences of others we would create a larger community that is both more compassionate and more accepting of those that are outside our norms. I don't think I can speak to the experiences of BIPOC communities as I don't want to speak over or on behalf of them but I think these same ideas of compassion could help.

Do you have any favorite cycling-specific organizations/groups that are BIPOC and lgbtqia+ that folks should know about?
In terms of companies, I feel putting the work in, the biggest one that stands out to me is Specialized, few other companies actually willingly and openly support trans athletes and are proud to do so. I feel the work that is doing in terms of social good really isn't rivaled by any other major cycling company. I also feel I should mention Leatt who supports me personally and has stuck by me through everything over the last year which goes a long way.