British Cycling to ban transgender women from competing in female category
British Cycling will prevent riders who were born male from racing in elite female events under a new transgender and non-binary participation policy published on Friday.
The governing body's new rules for competitive events, due to be implemented later this year, will see racing split into "open" and "female" categories, with transgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals and those whose sex was assigned male at birth eligible to compete in the open category.
The female category will remain for those whose sex was assigned female at birth, and transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy.
The current men's category will be consolidated into the open category, in which those whose sex was assigned as female at birth can also compete if they so wish.
British Cycling suspended its previous policy last April amid controversy after transgender woman Emily Bridges sought to race at the national omnium championships as a female rider.
The governing body's new chief executive Jon Dutton, who has been in post for one month, said he was "sorry" for the anxiety and upset caused during the 13 months since.
But shortly before British Cycling's statement was published, Bridges used social media to condemn the new policy. In a statement on Instagram, she called the policy a "violent act".
"I agree that there needs to be a nuanced policy discussion and continue to conduct research, but this hasn't happened," Bridges added.
"Research isn't being viewed critically, or any discussion about the relevance of the data to specific sports. Any discussion is inherently political... and the whole discussion is frame by the media who are driven through engagement by hate and funding from far-right ultra-capitalists.
"I've given my body up to science for the last two years, and this data will be out soon. There is actual, relevant data coming soon and discussions need to be had."
The policy is the result of a nine-month review which included a consultation process with riders and stakeholders, including members of the Great Britain team, as well as a study of available medical research led by British Cycling's chief medical officer Dr Nigel Jones.
That research was said to show a clear performance advantage for individuals who go through puberty as a male, and one which cannot be fully mitigated by testosterone suppression.
British Cycling's previous transgender policy allowed riders to compete in the female category if they had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to competition. The governing body will continue to study new research as it becomes available with the policy being regularly reviewed.
Dutton said the driving force behind the competitive policy was "fairness", while a non-competitive policy that keeps club rides, coaching programmes and other activities open to all was driven by "inclusivity".
"It's an incredibly emotive and at times divisive subject area," Dutton said. "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."
British Cycling has sought to contact affected athletes prior to publication of the new policy, with Dutton saying support would be offered to those whose route to competing at an elite level may now be closed.
"We accept that and understand that, and that's why we need to continue to support those affected," he added. "I am sorry it has taken so long to get to this point and for the upset and anxiety some people have had to go through but I accept this is a difficult moment for a number of people directly affected."
There is still no set date for the new regulations to be implemented, with the governing body saying only that it will be before the end of the year, allowing time for changes to technical regulations and discussions with the UCI regarding implementation.
The new policy diverges from that of the world governing body, which promised to look again at its own regulations after American transgender woman Austin Killips won the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico earlier this month.
The UCI allows 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 litre for the previous two years. The UCI reopened its consultation with athletes and national federations with the aim of reporting by August when the UCI management committee will meet during the world championships in Glasgow.