British Cycling has banned transgender women from racing in the women’s category at all events to ‘ensure the fairness of the competition’.
The new policy from the national governing body ends transgender rider Emily Bridges’ dream of competing for Britain or Wales in women’s races and puts pressure on the international sport’s federation, the UCI, to strengthen their own rules.
British Cycling will change their current men’s category to an ‘open’ category, where transgender women can compete against other men born, while the women’s category will be reserved for those who were female at birth.
The new policy will apply to all competitive activities – any race or event involving timing, standings or prizes – and will go into full effect by the end of this year. Transgender women are still allowed to ride with women in non-competitive cycling settings, such as the Breeze community program.
In an Instagram post, Bridges lashed out at British Cycling for their handling of the matter, saying she was tired of the conversation being dictated “on their terms and controlled by them.”
Emily Bridges has criticized British Cycling’s policy of excluding transgender women from female races
British Cycling CEO Jon Dutton confirmed the news Friday morning
In her scathing statement, she said: ‘British Cycling is a failed organisation, the racing world is dying under your watch and all you are doing is taking money from petrochemical companies and engaging in culture wars.’
She notes that the announcement follows a wave of policies across America that affect transgender people in the country.
Bridges wrote, “This is a violent act. When the government expresses admiration for the fascist state of Ron Desantis that kidnaps children, and is eager to pass legislation to ban us from public life, this is a violent act. British Cycling supports this, they are promoting a genocide against us. Banning sports is how it started, look what’s happening in America.’
She accepted that there should be “a nuanced policy discussion” but says British Cycling has failed to do so. She added, “I’ve been handing my body over to science for the past two years and these data will be released shortly.”
Bridges said she was strongly considering leaving Britain – which she calls “this horrible island” – because of the high level of hate crime against transgender people.
Bridges said she was considering leaving Britain because of the abuse of transgender people
“Our new policy is the product of a robust nine-month review process, which we know will have a very real impact on our community, both now and in the future,” said Jon Dutton, CEO of British Cycling. “I am convinced that we have developed policies that both ensure the fairness of cycling competition and ensure that all riders have the opportunity to participate.”
Under British Cycling’s previous rules, transgender women were allowed to compete in the women’s category, provided they had reduced their testosterone levels to less than five nanomoles per liter over a 12-month period.
However, they suspended that policy last April after Bridges – who was previously at Great Britain’s Academy as a male rider named Zach – attempted to compete in the women’s race at the National Omnium Championships, where she would have to compete against five-time Olympian champion. champion Laura Kenny.
Bridges would face Laura Kenny at the National Omnium Championships
British Cycling then began a consultation with female and transgender riders and reviewed the available medical evidence, concluding that ‘even with testosterone suppression, trans women who switch after puberty retain a performance advantage’.
That’s the main medical rationale for the historic policy change, and they’ve sought advice from sports and equality attorneys, Mills & Reeve, to ensure their new rules comply with the Equality Act should they face legal challenges.
British Cycling tried to contact about 10 known transgender and non-binary riders – including Bridges – to inform them of the new policy before it was published.
“I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get to this point,” said Dutton, who only started his role last month. “We realize that this has been an incredibly difficult period. It has caused fear, uncertainty and distress for many riders and we have a duty of care to support those people.
“But today it’s about leadership and giving that absolute clarity and direction to remove that uncertainty, as difficult as that is. Fairness is absolutely the driving force in competition policy.’
British Cycling’s announcement comes less than four weeks after the sport’s latest transgender storm, when American Austin Killips won the Tour of the Gila – the first transgender rider to triumph in an official UCI stage race.
The UCI currently allows transgender women to compete in women’s events as long as they have lowered their testosterone levels to 2.5 nmol/L over a two-year period.
However, in the aftermath of the Killips feud, they announced they will “reopen consultations” on their rules and decide on any changes by August, when they too are likely to ban transgender women from the female category.
American Austin Killips became the first transgender rider to win an official UCI stage race
In the meantime, British Cycling and the UCI have different policies – but Dutton confirmed that British teams for international events will be selected under the new national rules.
British Cycling’s move follows that of other sports in recent months, with World Athletics, UK Athletics, World Aquatics and British Triathlon all among the governing bodies that recently banned transgender women from the female category and are on track to expand their men’s category. to open.
“We’ve always been very clear that this is a challenge much bigger than one sport,” added Dutton. “We remain committed to listening to our communities and working with our fellow sport organizations to monitor changes in the scientific and policy landscape, to ensure that sport is inclusive for all.
“We have been open and transparent with the UCI about our decision and will work with them to ensure a seamless implementation over the coming months.”