Transgender women have been banned from competing in elite cycling races in the UK under a new policy published by the sports governing body on Friday.
Under a new transgender and non-binary participation policy set to be implemented sometime this year, British Cycling races will be split into “open” and “female” categories.
The current men’s category will be consolidated in the “open” category, which is also available to transgender women, transgender men and nonbinary cyclists.
The female category will remain for those whose sex was assigned female at birth as well as transgender men who have yet begun hormone therapy.
The policy comes after a nine month review by British Cycling, which included consulting with riders and stakeholders and a study of available medical research led by British Cycling’s chief medical officer, Dr. Nigel Jones.
The research concluded that riders who went through puberty as a male have a clear performative advantage that cannot be fully mitigated by testosterone suppression.
British Cycling has not yet confirmed exactly when the new policy will go into effect. It will begin before the end of the year, the organization said, as it discusses the rule with Union Cycliste Internationale [UCI] — the cycling world’s governing body — which has a different policy.
Currently, UCI permits transgender women who have gone through male puberty to compete in elite women’s events if they have had reduced testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per liter for the previous two years.
UCI is reportedly reviewing its regulations after transgender rider Austin Killups won the women’s race at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico earlier this month.
Last April British Cycling suspended its previous participation policy after transgender woman Emily Bridges sought to race at the national omnium championships as a female rider.
Bridges described the move as a “violent act.”
“I agree there needs to be a nuanced policy discussion and continue to conduct research, but this hasn’t happened,” she told the Associated Press.
Jon Dutton, chief executive of British Cycling, apologized for the anxiety caused during the 13 month limbo since the previous policy was suspended.
That previous transgender policy required riders competing in women’s events to show their testosterone levels were below five nanomoles per liter for 12 months prior to an event.
“It’s an incredibly emotive and at times divisive subject area,” said Dutton, who has been head of the governing body for just a month.
“We have taken many months to look at three areas: firstly a consultation with the athletes affected and the wider cycling community; secondly looking at the medical research available at this point in time; and thirdly from the legal viewpoint in terms of the association with the Equalities Act.
“We’ve made a decision on the balance of all three to give clarity, to give direction and that clear way forward for any athletes affected.”
With Post wires