Trans-identified male cyclists are set to be banned from competing in women's cycling championships under a new policy announced by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), cycling's global governing body. Under the new rules, set to take effect this Monday, transgender male athletes who transitioned after puberty will no longer be allowed to participate in any competitions and official events in the UCI calendar.
The governing body announced the decision on Friday after holding a special UCI Management Committee on July 5 following increased calls from stakeholders, athletes, scientists and legal experts to overrule existing trans guidelines.
The policy is set to replace the existing rules which have allowed trans-identified males to compete in the female category if their testosterone levels were below a certain threshold of 2.5 nanomoles per liter for at least 24 months prior to competing. From Monday on, male trans athletes will now compete in the men's category which will be renamed Men/Open.
In an official statement released by UCI, the sporting body confirmed that male athletes, even those who identify as transgender, do have a "lasting advantage" over women. "Given the current state of scientific knowledge," the UCI said, "it is also impossible to rule out the possibility that biomechanical factors such as the shape and arrangement of the bones in their limbs may constitute a lasting advantage for female transgender athletes."
The announcement has been welcomed by female athletes, including NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines, former Olympic cyclist Inga Thompson and former Olympic decathlete and transgender male Caitlyn Jenner who have all praised the new UCI policy.
Riley Gaines tweeted her support for the announcement "UCI, governing body of cycling, has joined the likes of FINA (swimming) & World Athletics (track & field) and prioritized fairness in sport rather than feelings. Cycling has been heavily infiltrated with males competing in the women's division so this is huge."
Former olympic decathlete and spokesperson for Fairness First PAC Caitlyn Jenner tweeted "Good news from Cycling Governing Body today. Protect Women's Sports! I cannot believe we have to keep saying this."
Three time Olympic cyclist and ten time national cycling champion Inga Thompson tweeted "We are all now working together for meaningful inclusion that protects women's sport and establishes predictable pathways for inclusion of transgender athletes in cycling."
Canadian trans-identified male cyclist Veronica Ivy also bemoaned the decision in a post.
British Olympic medalist and author of Unfair Play: The Battle for Women's Sport Sharron Davies told The Post Millennial she hailed the decision.
"It shouldn't have taken 50 trans identifying males taking prize money, places & points from females in a category solely created to remove male physical advantage before the UCI protected & respected their female cyclists," Davies said. "Of course I'm very glad they have at last done that before the Paris Olympics & more sex discrimination could happen, a lot of damage has already been done."
Meanwhile British transgender cyclist Emily Bridges, a male who previously competed in women's professional cycling, slammed UCI's decision in an Instagram statement "They've made it clear that they're regressing from any commitment to diversity or progress, and upholding what sport has always been about; enforcing the superiority of the ruling class and making as much money as possible."
The move comes amid growing tensions in the cycling world after Austin Killips, a trans-identified male, won first place in the female category in several professional cycling competitions including the UCI's Tour of the Gila in New Mexico where Killips scooped the $35,000 prize, the Belgian Waffle Ride in North Carolina and the UCI's Verge Northhampton International Cyclocross.
Days prior to UCI's new policy banning trans athletes, Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR), a prominent North American cycling championship, announced that it would be changing its own policy for trans-identified males in women's sports by creating an open category and banning biological males from competing in the female category.
The announcement came weeks after Austin Killips sparked backlash for winning first place in the North Carolina leg of the competition and second place in the Belgian Waffle Ride held in Vancouver, Canada. The BWR policy is set to take effect from August 1st and includes an open category for all competitors "regardless of gender identity."