British Cycling has announced that it will prohibit transgender women from competing in the female category of its competitions. The decision comes after a nine-month review and consultation by the governing body, with the aim of ensuring fairness in competition. Transgender women will now be required to compete in an 'open category' alongside men, while female races will be reserved for individuals whose sex was assigned female at birth. The policy change means that cyclists like Emily Bridges, a prominent transgender athlete, will no longer be eligible to compete in women's events.
The previous policy of British Cycling allowed transgender women to participate in elite female events if they met testosterone-based regulations. However, concerns were raised about the fairness of competition, leading to the suspension of the regulations and the subsequent review. British Cycling cited research studies suggesting that transgender women who transition post-puberty retain a performance advantage even with testosterone suppression.
The decision has garnered mixed reactions. Emily Bridges criticized British Cycling, calling the change a "violent act" by a "failed organization" that was stifling discussions on transgender inclusion. She expressed her concerns about the state of cycling and accused British Cycling of perpetuating a "genocide" against transgender individuals. On the other hand, advocacy groups such as Fair Play For Women supported the decision, emphasizing the need for fairness and the protection of the female category.
The debate surrounding transgender participation in sports is ongoing. Some argue that transgender women may have inherent physical advantages, even with hormone therapy, which could impact fair competition. Others advocate for more inclusive policies and open categories to accommodate transgender athletes. Similar decisions to ban transgender women from competing in women's categories have been made in other sports, including athletics, swimming, triathlon, and rugby.
British Cycling's new policy will be implemented by the end of the year. The organization acknowledges the limited research in this area and commits to monitoring scientific and policy developments to ensure inclusivity in sports while safeguarding fair competition. British Cycling will continue to offer transgender women and non-binary individuals the opportunity to participate in its community programs in line with their gender identities.