May 26, 2023 — Athlete Ally responded today to news that British Cycling has released new participation policies banning transgender women from participation in the women’s category. The policy, which goes against inclusive guidelines from the International Olympic Committee as well as extensive research showing that transgender women do not have an inherent advantage in sport, states that trans women, trans men and nonbinary cyclists must compete in an “open category”.
“This is yet another astounding example of a sport governing body responding to hateful and misinformed political pressure instead of reviewing the relevant science and impact on athletes,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy & Programs for Athlete Ally. “If we really want to protect women’s sports and highlight the inequities and challenges women in sport face, we would be listening to the very real challenges women athletes face, not allowing transgender women to be used as scapegoats for violence and vitriol.”
“Creating an ‘open category’ or offering that trans and nonbinary cyclists participate in a non-competitive program creates an illusion of inclusion. The reality is that many trans and nonbinary cyclists will be forced to quit the sport in which they’ve extensively trained and competed,” said Chris Mosier, Founder of TransAthlete.com, two-time National Champion and Team USA multisport athlete. “Any policy that seeks to separate transgender women from cisgender women sets up a dangerous environment of policing of all women’s bodies in sports.”
In April 2022, British Cycling suspended its transgender and nonbinary participation policy to review “available medical science”. British cyclist Emily Bridges commented on the policy, saying, “Research isn’t being viewed critically, or any discussion about the relevance of the data to specific sports. Any discussion is inherently political and driven by bad faith actors.”
Bridges continues, “It terrifies me to exist at the moment, I have friends getting hate crimed all the time, and the reality is I can’t look ahead to the future or make plans. Because I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to live that long. Do you have any idea what that does to someone psychologically? To constantly see your existence being put up for debate and the other side openly calling for our eradication? I don’t even know if I want to race my bike anymore, the danger that would come with racing makes it a pretty hard thing to justify to myself.”