Kristen Worley

Kristen Worley is a former world-class cyclist and now an international inclusivity and diversity advisor, educator and public speaker. She is the first athlete to legally challenge the gender policies of the International Olympic Committee and related international sports bodies, which she successfully argued were designed to discriminate against female athletes. She lives in Toronto.

Johanna Schneller is one of North America’s leading freelance journalists specializing in entertainment features. Her weekly Fame Game column in the Globe and Mail has been nominated for four National Newspaper Awards.

On Festival Sunday Kristen Worley will be part of our “With Great Fortitude” set at The Meadow from 3:15-4:15.

Woman Enough: How a Boy Became a Woman and Changed the World of Sport

From a high-performance Canadian cyclist and transgender woman, Woman Enough is a powerful and inspiring story of self-realization and legal victory that upends our basic assumptions about sexual identity. Kristen Worley is a groundbreaking activist in the trans movement and the first person ever to successfully sue the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a human rights violation (and win!) and the first athlete to be gender-tested under the 2004 Stockholm Consensus in any sport. Woman Enough is also a story of passion and activism, beating the most powerful and dictatorial body in sports against all odds, and of a person transcending a difficult childhood.

Kristen Worley, a world-class cyclist, aspired to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Having begun her transition in 1998, she became the first athlete in the world to submit to the International Olympic Committee’s Stockholm Consensus, a gender verification process that would allow her to engage in sport as the person she knew she was meant to be. An all-male jury determined she fit their biological criteria. 

Three decades earlier, Kristen was Chris, a male baby adopted by an upper-middle-class Toronto family. From early childhood, Chris felt ill-at-ease as a boy and like an outsider in his conservative family. An obsession with sports – running, waterskiing, and cycling – helped him survive what he would eventually understand to be a profound disconnect between his anatomical sexual identity and his gender identity. In his twenties, with the support of newfound friends and family and the medical community, Chris became Kristen.

Sport had always been her means of escape, and now she wanted to compete for her country and herself. Though she passed the hurdle of gender verification, the IOC, international and local cycling associations and the World Anti-Doping Agency insisted that transitioned male-to-female athletes should not receive testosterone supplements. They viewed such supplements as performance-enhancing, failing to recognize that women produce varying levels of the hormone too. Kristen’s transitioned body had stopped producing any hormones at all – she needed hormone support to stay healthy and to compete. So Kristen fought back on behalf of all female athletes. She filed a complaint against the IOC and the other sports bodies standing in her way with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. And she won.

Woman Enough is the account of a human rights battle with global repercussions for the world of sport; it’s a challenge to rethink fixed ideas about gender; and it’s the extraordinary story of a boy who was rejected for who he wasn’t, and who fought back until she found out who she is.