December 11, 2023

British Cycling announces transgender ban

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British Cycling has became the latest sports governing body to ban transgender women from competing in female events.

The new rules will divide cyclists into female and open categories in a departure from international cycling policy.

Female races will be “for those whose sex was assigned female at birth”.

The changes will prevent riders such as Emily Bridges potentially being part of the British women’s team.

Last year Bridges, Britain’s highest-profile transgender cyclist, was stopped from competing in her first elite women’s race by the UCI, cycling’s world federation, despite meeting the rules at the time.

Bridges reacted to the announcement with a statement on social media, calling the change a “violent act by a failed organisation that was controlling the conversation on transgender inclusion.”

She said that the racing scene was dying under its watch and that British Cycling was engaged in “culture wars”.

British Cycling’s policy had allowed transgender women to take part in elite female events if they met testosterone-based regulations.

But with the governing body at the heart of the debate over balancing inclusion with fairness, its regulations were suspended amid mounting controversy about Bridges and a review was launched.

“Research studies indicate that even with the suppression of testosterone, transgender women who transition post-puberty retain a performance advantage,” said British Cycling.

“Our aim in creating our policies has always been to advance and promote equality, diversity and inclusion, while at the same time prioritising fairness of competition.

“We recognise the impact the suspension of our policy has had on trans and non-binary people, and we are sorry for the uncertainty and upset that many have felt during this period.”

Transgender women will be able to participate in non-competitive recreational and community cycling without restriction.

The new policies will be implemented by the end of the year.

In her statement, Bridges was critical of the state of British Cycling and its treatment of transgender riders.

“Cycling is still one of the whitest, straightest sports out there and you couldn’t care less,” she said. “I agree there needs to be a nuanced policy discussion and continue to conduct research. This hasn’t happened.

“Research isn’t being viewed critically, or any discussion about the relevance of the data to specific sports.

“I’ve given my body up to science for the last two years, and this data will be out soon.

“There is actual, relevant data coming soon and discussions need to be had.”

Bridges claimed discussion of the debate is “inherently political” and “framed by the media who are driven through engagement by hate”, saying she was “terrified to exist”.

She said lot of people will think she’s being dramatic, or overplaying how scary things are at the moment.

“I don’t even know if I want to race my bike any more… but you have no right on telling me when I am done.”


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