Transgender Women Banned from Elite Cycling Races in UK
In the UK, transgender women have been prohibited from participating in elite cycling races under a new policy published by the country’s sports governing body, British Cycling, on Friday. The transgender and non-binary participation policy, which is expected to go into effect this year, will split British Cycling races into open and female categories.
The current men’s category is being consolidated in the “open” category, which is also open to transgender women, transgender men, and non-binary cyclists. The female category will remain for those whose sex was assigned female at birth, as well as transgender men who have not begun hormone therapy.
After a nine-month review that involved consultations with riders and stakeholders and a study of available medical research, led by British Cycling’s chief medical officer, Dr Nigel Jones, the policy was developed. The British Cycling team was also consulted. The research showed that riders who went through puberty as males have distinct performance advantages that cannot be fully offset by testosterone suppression.
British Cycling has yet to confirm when the new policy will take effect, but it will begin before this year ends, according to the organization. Currently, the cycling world’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), has a policy that permits transgender women who have undergone male puberty to participate in elite women’s events if their testosterone levels have been reduced to 2.5 nanomoles per liter for the previous two years.
Reportedly, UCI is reviewing its regulations after transgender rider Austin Killups won the women’s race at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico earlier this month.
Last April, following transgender woman Emily Bridges’ attempt to compete in the national omnium championships as a female rider, British Cycling suspended its previous participation policy. Bridges described the suspension as a “violent act.” The previous policy required riders competing in women’s events to show that their testosterone levels were below five nanomoles per liter for 12 months before an event.
Jon Dutton, British Cycling’s CEO, apologised for the anxiety caused during the 13-month limbo since the previous policy was suspended. Dutton, who has only been in charge of the governing body for a month, said, “We have taken many months to look at three areas: firstly a consultation with the athletes affected and the wider cycling community; secondly looking at the medical research available at this point in time; and thirdly from the legal viewpoint in terms of the association with the Equalities Act. We’ve made a decision on the balance of all three to give clarity, to give direction and that clear way forward for any athletes affected.”