Transgender women will be banned from competing in British Cycling events under a new set of rules, which are poised to come into effect before the end of this year and will see the men’s category become open to participants of all genders. The new policy change will end transgender cyclist Emily Bridges’ hopes of competing in female events 14 months after she was barred from taking part in her first women’s race in Derby.
The female category will only be open to riders whose sex was assigned female at birth, although transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy will also be allowed to compete. The rules will only apply to events sanctioned by British Cycling, with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) yet to announce a new position on transgender participation at a worldwide level.
When asked if the new policy could be interpreted as 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.”
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Bridges, who set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles five years ago, came out as a transgender woman in 2020 and started hormone therapy last year to reduce her levels of testosterone. She was banned from racing in a women’s event alongside six-time Olympic medallist Laura Kenny last March after the UCI ruled that she was not eligible to compete because she was still registered as a male rider.
“Emily and a number of athletes are clearly affected by this policy,” added Dutton. “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’s decision to change their policy relating to transgender participation comes after British Triathlon announced plans for an ‘open category’ for men, transgender women and non-binary athletes in July of last year. International athletics and swimming governing bodies have also blocked athletes who underwent male puberty from participating in international women’s events.
“It is very difficult,” continued Dutton. “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.”
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