“My vision encourages sport and the Olympic Movement to do what it is supposed to do best: harmonizing and celebrating through sport the magic and enormity of our human diversity.” Kristen Worley
Kristen Worley is a world class cyclist who challenged the highest levels of international sport on science, gender and human rights…and won.
Worley shines a spotlight on the need for policies to be backed by evidence and science, on the power of identity and self-worth, and the value of diversity and inclusion. She’ll challenge your assumptions, help organizations review how they make decisions, and shed light on healthcare and human rights.
She’s been tirelessly at the forefront of the struggles against sport gender rules for more than 16 years, and working as an educator and adviser regarding diversity education and inclusive policy in global sport. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario accepted her landmark case, where she argued that sport’s policies on gender infringed on human rights. As a result of her multiyear efforts, in 2017, the parties including the International Olympic Committee agreed “to promote inclusive sporting environments” in international sport.
She’s since founded the Human Diversity in Sport Foundation, sharing a vision of inclusive sport.
Earlier in her career, as a competitive cyclist, she wanted to compete at the Olympic level in the female category. However as a transitioned female elite athlete, she was forced to choose between not competing or competing and facing significant illness due to outdated, unscientific policies.
Kristen Worley was born and raised as classically male, but after realizing she had a medical condition in which a person’s sex and gender identity are not aligned, she underwent gender reassignment via surgery to become a transitioned woman.
She spent her teenage years trying to navigate a world she didn’t understand, seeking counselling at mental health clinics, attempting suicide, and being abandoned by family.
It was sport that finally saved her. Though sport challenged her in ways she didn’t expect.
Through her incredibly challenging effort to become recognized by the International Olympic Committee, she faced invasive medical procedures, highly personal questioning, and challenges to her identity. She committed herself to bringing awareness and change to international heights by challenging sports’ definition of gender. She was the first athlete in the world who was subject to the IOC’s 2003 Stockholm Consensus regarding conditions under which athletes who had changed sex could compete in sporting competitions.
Society and Olympic sport separate men from women, and confer assumptions about competitive advantage on ‘men’ due to their higher testosterone levels, and disadvantages to women. However, Kristen Worley’s case, based on scientific evidence, proves that higher natural testosterone provides no competitive advantage. And in fact, there are nine different chromosome make ups.
Worley fought for three years against a policy ‘based on fantasy rather than hard scientific fact, being caught between the IOC threatening to remove cycling from the Olympics if the UCI supported her on the one hand, and the Canadian Government on the other who stood to lose all UCI sanctioned cycling events in Canada if she won her human rights litigation,’ notes the Sports Integrity Initiative.
Worley has encouraged a broader discussion and the need for education to help ensure better healthcare for athletes and people with diverse bodies. “This is important for Canada. We have always presented ourselves as a nation with a focus on human rights, through our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It’s a unique opportunity.”
She’s now speaking in Canada and Worldwide to share her story. She’s been featured in Geneva at the Mega Sporting Events Platform for Human Rights, at the Integrity in Sport & Athletes Rights Law Conference and more.
Kristen is in great demand as a speaker on gender diversity in sport and is both chronicling her journey via an international film documentary, and writing a book expected in 2018 with Penguin Random House.