Na Hwa-rin is a South Korean cyclist. She has made headlines as the country’s first recognized transgender athlete. Born biologically male, Na transitioned to a woman and continues to pursue her passion for competitive cycling.
However, her motivations go beyond personal glory. Na aims to prove a point to what she considers “selfish” trans athletes and advocate for a fair and inclusive approach to gender divisions in sports.
After legally transitioning last year, Na participated in the Gangwon Sports Festival in June and emerged victorious. However, her victory was not a cause for personal pride but rather a means to spark controversy and raise awareness about the physical advantages biological men may have over biological women.
Expressing her perspective, Na told Korean times, “I have no unresolved feelings over winning because that’s no longer what I want. My goal was to stir controversy and get my story heard by competing.” She believes that other transgender athletes might share similar sentiments but hesitate to admit it, emphasizing the need for integrity and fairness in sports.
Before her transition, Na had already established herself as a fierce competitor in men’s races, even while undergoing hormone therapy. Her success as a male athlete added to her determination to advocate for a more inclusive approach. Na suggests the inclusion of a “third gender” category in athletic competitions, similar to the various weight divisions in some sports.
She believes that under the current binary system, women athletes might face discouragement, and their hard work may go unrecognized due to the participation of transgender athletes.
While Na secured her victory and qualified for the National Sports Festival, she declined the opportunity to compete further. Her decision reflects her consideration for others and a desire to avoid creating conflicts that may harm individuals.
“It could be like how we have many weight divisions in some sports… Under the current binary system, women athletes will be discouraged, and their hard work might not be recognized due to the participation of transgender athletes,” she relayed to the outlet.
“I don’t want to make an issue to the point where I harm other people,” the cyclist told the outlet.
“Trans woman athletes, no matter how hard they worked, will never be truly honored for their wins. Honor is the goal that all athletes aspire to attain, but this is a situation where nobody will be honored. I think that shouldn’t happen.”