Jillian Beardan, first female transgender cyclist to ride in a pro U.S. peloton, emerges as beacon…

303Cycling’s Nicole Odell caught up with Jillian Bearden last year, telling her story as a transgendered athlete. Read those stories here:

Transgender Cyclist – The Story of Jillian Bearden
Transgender Cyclist – Jillian Joins a Race Team

From The Denver Post

SALIDA — Less than three years into her transition from Jonathan to Jillian, pro cyclist Jillian Bearden has once again found serenity on her bike. Now, using studies and stats collected during her long career, she’s helping prove that transgender athletes change more than their names, they change their biology.

Bearden has watched her performance ebb since beginning hormone-replacement therapy in 2015. As testosterone fades and estrogen grows, her fastest times on favorite climbs have slipped into what she calls “the gutter.”

It was tough realizing her hard-earned power, developed over more than a decade of elite-level bike racing, was waning.

“I went from 16 minutes to 26, 27, 28 minutes,” she said of her times on her those climbs. “I was like holy … Testosterone gives you this drive, this oomph, and I didn’t have that push. My muscles looked fairly big, but I did not have that push to drive that extra energy. I had good days and really, really bad days. But at the end of it all, I always know that I won the biggest race of all. I am here on planet Earth with my family and it doesn’t really matter how slow I am. I’ve already won.”

Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

On Thursday, when Bearden saddles up with the world’s best female cyclists for the Colorado Classic in her hometown of Colorado Springs, she will be the first transwoman to race with a pro peloton in the United States. Thanks to recently relaxed International Olympic Committee rules governing transgender athletes, and USA Cycling’s embrace of those new rules, Bearden has become a beacon for transathletes across the globe.

Bearden is basking in a light that saved her life. In late 2014, she was driving in the dark and pushed her car to 90 mph. She turned up her favorite tune and prepared to whip the steering wheel and end it all. The darkness was all-consuming, eclipsing all the outward trimmings of success: a family, a home, a job and elite-level talent on a bike.

But just before that fateful yank, Bearden said she felt “an angelic light” penetrate her overwhelming misery. Maybe it was from her mom. Or her brother, who had taken his life almost a decade earlier.

“Whatever it was, that presence brought me out and the message to me was ‘Tell your mom. Just tell your mom,’ ” Jillian said.

Jillian told her mom. Then she told her spouse. And her kids. And now she’s telling the world, that since her birth, despite the misplaced hardware and the name Jonathan, she is a woman. It’s not just that she always wanted to be a woman. She is a woman.

Read the full story here