Transgender women will be banned from competing in British Cycling’s competitive women’s events in changes that will see the men’s category become an open one.
The new policy change ends the hopes of transgender cyclist Emily Bridges of competing in women’s competitions.
It is 14 months since the 22-year-old was barred from competing in her first women’s event in Derby – when she was due to face five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny – after cycling’s world governing body ruled she was not eligible to race because she was still registered as a male cyclist.
Today’s policy announcement, which is set to take effect by the end of the year, only covers British Cycling events.
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling’s world governing body, is yet to announce a new transgender eligibility position.
British Cycling apologised for the “uncertainty and upset that many have felt” since their transgender and non-binary participation policy was suspended in April 2022 to carry out research and consultation.
Asked if the new policy is discriminatory, British Cycling chief Jon Dutton told Sky News: “We have taken a view that this is absolutely about being inclusive for all.
“We’ve created a new open category that anyone has the ability to ride in and also a non-competitive policy that is absolutely inclusive and accessible.
“We will not tolerate any form of discrimination in moving forward with this policy.
“And it’s really important that we support, we empathise, we are compassionate to the riders that are affected by this policy change.”
British Cycling said the female category will be for those riders whose sex was assigned female at birth and transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy.
Bridges, who set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles in 2018, came out as a transgender woman in October 2020 and began hormone therapy last year to reduce her testosterone levels.
She posted a statement on Instagram following the British Cycling announcement.
She hit out at the organisation for the ban, saying it doesn’t care “about making sport more diverse”.
Addressing British Cycling directly, she added: “Cycling is still one of the whitest, straightest sports out there, and you couldn’t care less.”
She added: “I agree 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.”
Mr Dutton said: “Emily, and a number of athletes are clearly affected by this policy.
“But what we wanted to provide at this point in time is clarity on the direction of travel.
“The decision that we’ve made on behalf of British Cycling is for the whole of the cycling community.”
British Cycling is emulating British Triathlon, which announced plans last year for an “open category” for men, transgender women and non-binary athletes.
International athletics and swimming governing bodies have banned athletes who underwent male puberty from competing in international women’s events.
Mr Dutton said: “It is very difficult. It’s divisive. It’s emotive. It’s affecting human beings. And we absolutely fully understand and appreciate that. So it has been a difficult process.”
Cycling’s global governing body is reviewing its rules after negativity provoked by Austin Killips, who is a transgender woman, winning the Tour of the Gila stage race in a women’s race in New Mexico last month.
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