British Cycling will prevent riders who were born male from participating in competitive female events under a new transgender and non-binary participation policy published today.
The governing body’s new rules are due to be implemented later this year and will see racing split into ‘open’ and ‘female’ categories, with transgender women, transgender men, so-called non-binary individuals, and athletes whose sex was assigned male at birth only being excluded from competing in the female category.
Understandably, the female category will remain for those whose sex was assigned female at birth.
The current men’s category will be consolidated into the open category, in which those whose sex was assigned as female at birth can also compete if they desire.
The policy is the result of a nine-month review which included a consultation process with riders and stakeholders, including members of the Great Britain team, as well as a study of available medical research led by British Cycling’s chief medical officer Dr Nigel Jones.
That research was said to show a clear performance advantage for individuals who go through puberty as a male, and one which cannot be fully mitigated by testosterone suppression.
The move follows years of division and heated debate, after awards in numerous female sporting contests including wrestling, swimming, and even boxing, have been won by men who have been allowed to compete by stating they are transgender or non-binary.
The governing body, British Cycling, has today released the following detailed statement:
“In April 2022, we suspended our Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy so that we could conduct a full review of the available medical science and carry out a targeted consultation with our communities.
“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.
“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. This aim has not changed: it has been central to our review and we remain committed to this vital work.
“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).
“We also conducted a full medical science review, followed by an assessment of the practical changes and support needed to ensure the policy’s successful implementation. The review process was independently audited to confirm the strength of its governance and supported by external legal advice.
“The review has led to two new policies being created: Policy for Competitive Activity, which relates to all British Cycling-sanctioned competitive events, and Policy for Non-Competitive Activity, which builds on the long-term commitment to inclusion set out in our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, Our Ride.
“The British Cycling Board endorsed the two new policies in April. We will provide further information on our exact implementation date to our members and event organisers in due course, and expect to have implemented both policies in full by the end of 2023.
“The Policy for Competitive Activity covers all British Cycling-sanctioned competitive events. It will see the implementation of an ‘Open’ category alongside a ‘Female’ category. This means that the current men’s category will be consolidated into the ‘Open’ category.
“Transgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals and those whose sex was assigned male at birth will be eligible to compete in the ‘Open’ category. The ‘Female’ category will remain in place for those whose sex was assigned female at birth and transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy. At this stage, they will be eligible to compete in the ‘Open’ category only, and should ensure that they continue to adhere to the requirements of UK Anti-Doping. Those whose sex was assigned female at birth are also able to compete in the ‘Open’ category if they so wish.
“Existing Race Licences held by transgender women will continue to be valid until the point at which the new policy comes into force, and we are working closely with those individuals to support their continued participation in events following the change in policy.
“In the case of ‘International Events’ which are delivered in the UK on behalf of the UCI (such as the UCI Track Nations Cup), or events on the UCI calendar owned and delivered by independent organisers (such as The Women’s Tour), the UCI policy on eligibility will take precedence.
“The Policy for Non-Competitive Activity builds on our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, Our Ride, and re-asserts our commitment to inclusion for trans and non-binary riders across our non-competitive activities.
“This includes our Breeze programme, a women-only community programme, which will continue to remain open and inclusive for transgender women and non-binary people.
“Trans and non-binary people can also continue to participate in a broad range of British Cycling activities in line with their gender identities, including: club and coach-led activities, ability based race programmes (such as Go-Race events), community programmes, Talent Development Centres and non-competitive events such as sportives.
“Throughout the implementation period, we will be commencing a programme of digital improvements which will widen the gender options available to members and participants across our platforms.”
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