Did Transgender Olympian Chelsea Wolfe Say She Wants To ‘Burn a US Flag on the Podium’?

The BMX Freestyle rider’s qualification to join the U.S. team made history.

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Claim

Chelsea Wolfe, a freestyle BMX biker who is the first transgender woman to join the U.S. Olympic team, said on Facebook she hopes to win the competition so that she can “burn a U.S. flag on the podium.”

Rating

Context

Wolfe did not deny authoring the Facebook post when given the opportunity by Snopes and others, but neither did she confirm it. Although a screenshot of the alleged post exists, that post does not currently appear on Wolfe's Facebook page. Since we have no way to independently verify the authenticity of the screenshot, we rate this claim as "Unproven."

Origin

A Facebook post allegedly from March 2020 and shared by Chelsea Wolfe, a freestyle BMX biker who is the first transgender woman to join the U.S. Olympic team, reportedly said that she hoped to win the competition so that she can “burn a U.S. flag on the podium.”

The supposed Facebook post was first reported by Ian Miles Cheong in a blog written for The Culture War Update titled, “The Cheapening of Gold: the First Transgender Olympics Athlete Hates the United States.” The story picked up steam in late June 2021 when several national media publications, including conservative-leaning outlets like The Washington Times and The Federalist, cited a Fox News report published on June 22, 2021.

“My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium. This is what they focus on during a pandemic. Hurting trans children,” Fox News reported Wolfe wrote on Facebook on March 25, 2020. In her post, Wolfe allegedly shared a link to an article written by LGBTQ+ online newspaper PinkNews, about the Trump administration’s stance on transgender girls in female athletics.

In a written statement reportedly sent to Fox News, Wolfe rebuffed accusations that she doesn’t care about her home country:

Anyone who thinks that I don’t care about the United States is sorely mistaken. One of the reasons why I work so hard to represent the United States in international competition is to show the world that this country has morals and values, that it’s not all of the bad things that we’re known for. I take a stand against fascism because I care about this country and I’m not going to let it fall into the hands of fascists after so many people have fought and sacrificed to prevent fascism from taking hold abroad. As a citizen who wants to be proud of my home country, I’m sure as hell not going to let it take hold here.

Snopes searched through Wolfe’s Facebook page, but did not find the March 20, 2020, post that Fox News reported on. We also reached out directly to Wolfe to verify her statement. A spokesperson who said they represented Wolfe called Snopes and acknowledged that they had received the message, but declined to comment on the incident.

Wolfe did not deny authoring the Facebook post when given the opportunity by Snopes and others, but neither did she confirm it. Although a screenshot of the alleged post exists, that post does not currently appear on Wolfe’s Facebook page. Since we have no way to independently verify the authenticity of the screenshot, we rate this claim as “Unproven.”

Wolfe is a BMX freestyle athlete, and vocal LGBTQ+ rights advocate. In June 2021, she made history as the first out transgender Olympic athlete to join Team U.S.A. The 28-year-old Floridian joined the Elite Women’s National Team for BMX after it was included for the first time in the 2020 Olympics, which was rescheduled for 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Qualifying to represent the US national team for the sport that I love is something I consider to be one of my life’s greatest achievements,” Wolfe said of her qualification to serve as an alternate to represent the U.S. at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

“Through so many obstacles in my way on top of the standard challenges that every athlete will face when working for this dream I persevered, and the difficulty of this task is why I’m so proud to accomplish it.”