Following a nine-month review and consultation, British Cycling has announced that it will not allow transgender women to compete in female categories.
The British cycling governing body's updated Transgender and Non-Binary Participation policies from will see any athlete whose sex wasn't assigned female at birth or are a transgender man who is yet to begin hormone therapy having to race in redefined 'Open'
Current Men's racing categories will be replaced by this 'Open'
category with a 'Female'
category remaining across Elite and grassroots racing for riders with a birth sex of female. Previously for transgender women to compete in Women's racing they had to reduce their testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L for at least a year.
British Cycling's new rules are not yet in place as it tries to figure out how to implement the policies, but it expects them to be in place by the end of 2023.
British Cycling's New Eligibility Criteria:
British Cycling's latest policy updates come after it initially suspended its previous policy on transgender participation in April last year. In its press release British Cycling says: "The nine-month policy review was led by an internal working group, made up of a broad range of representatives from across British Cycling, Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling. During these nine months, the working group undertook a targeted consultation consisting of 14 focus groups and a number of one-to-one interviews (including dedicated sessions for female Race Licence holders and trans and non-binary members)."
The policy review has led to the creation of two new polices with the 'Policy for Competitive Activity'
covering all British Cycling-sanctioned competitive event, the 'Policy for Non-Competitive Activity'
covers British Cycling activities outside of racing.
CEO of British Cycling, Jon Dutton has said that the cycling governing body believes the new policies are "product of a robust nine-month review process" although he acknowledges that the new rules will "have a very real-world impact for our community both now and in the future." Dutton also suggests that nothing is set in stone as British Cycling will "continue to assess our policy annually and more frequently as the medical science develops, and will continue to invite those impacted to be an integral part of those conversations."
British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton's Statement:
While British Cycling has changed its policies on transgender and non-binary participation, the UCI has not
updated its rule, and transgender women can still compete in Women's categories at UCI-sanctioned events. Currently, the UCI is performing its own review of its policies, but it has not suspended existing rules while it performs this task.
In British Cycling's own FAQs
on its policy update, it does state that while British Cycling events will follow the new rules any UCI-sanctioned events across England, Scotland and Wales will still follow UCI rules. This means that any transgender woman who has UCI eligibility will still be permitted to compete in 'Female'
categories in UCI International Events.
British Cycling on its Difference in Policy to the UCI:
Emily Bridges, a high-profile UK transgender cyclist who was on track to become part of the British women's team has responded to these policy updates by British Cycling, calling the governing body a "failed organisation".
The British rider was stopped last year from competing in her first Elite Women's race by the UCI despite meeting the then-current regulations. Emily Bridges goes on in her statement to say that she agrees that "there needs to be a nuanced policy discussion and continue to conduct research, but this hasn't happened.
"Research isn't being viewed critically, or any discussion about the relevance of the data to specific sports."Emily Bridges' Full Statement:
In its medical review conducted by British Cycling’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nigel Jones, the governing body says it came to the conclusion that even with the suppression of testosterone, transgender women who transition post-puberty retain a performance advantage. The FAQs
released by British Cycling state: "Dr Jones was satisfied that the evidence sufficiently indicated that the average female is at a physical performance disadvantage compared to the average male, and that therefore competitive cycling disciplines are “gender affected activities” within the meaning of the Equality Act."
British Cycling's interpretation of the issue conflicts with other studies
on transgender women in elite sports that have argued that transgender women do not hold a biological advantage once they meet the strict testosterone limits set to take part in top-level sporting events.