Athlete Ally Responds to UCI Trans Athlete Ban

July 17, 2023 — Athlete Ally responded to news that starting today, transgender women are banned from competing according to their gender identity at all events sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for sports cycling.

In the release announcing the ban, UCI President David Lappartient said: “First of all, the UCI would like to reaffirm that cycling – as a competitive sport, leisure activity or means of transport – is open to everyone, including transgender people, whom we encourage like everyone else to take part in our sport.” Yet under the announced ban, there is no path forward for transgender women who have transitioned post-puberty to participate in UCI events.

“Like many sport policies that ban trans athletes, UCI has relied theirs upon faulty data which refers to averages for cisgender men and cisgender women, not for transgender athletes whom this ban directly impacts,” said Dr. Anna Baeth, Director of Research at Athlete Ally. “The lack of research around transgender women who have undergone hormone replacement therapy in cycling make it even more unconscionable that the UCI is willing to so readily bar gender diverse athletes despite the lack of scientifically precise conclusions. Rather than following the lead of the IOC, which takes a stance in support of athletes since there is a lack of scientific evidence justifying their exclusion, the UCI has instead chosen to use false science to justify a discriminatory policy.”

Olympic cyclist Haley Smith opposes the ban, writing, “I don’t agree with the UCI’s decision to ban trans women from competing in the women’s category. I know this is a complicated topic for many, but I keep returning to what I believe to be the purpose of sport: to offer opportunities for enjoyment, self-betterment, personal challenge, camaraderie (etc.) for all.”

American athlete and longtime trans-advocate Molly Cameron shared Smith’s dismay, adding, “In 2003, the UCI enforced a policy banning most trans women, and in 2023, after two decades of progress, they’ve chosen to do it again…Taking rights and opportunities from one does not equate to fairness for all.”