The UCI Bans Trans-Identifying Males from Women’s Cycling Races
The world governing body for sports cycling, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), made a significant decision on Friday. They announced a ban on trans-identifying males from competing in women’s cycling races, marking a reversal of their previous policy.
The previous policy allowed men to participate in women’s sports if their plasma testosterone level remained below 2.5 nanomoles per liter for two years. However, the new ban, which takes effect on Monday, eliminates this allowance.
“[UCI] has a duty to guarantee, above all, equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions,” stated UCI President David Lappartient. He further explained that the current scientific knowledge does not ensure equal opportunities between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants, leading to the decision to prohibit trans-identifying males from racing in the female categories.
Under the new policy, any male who underwent puberty, regardless of hormone levels or duration of hormone therapy, will be required to compete in the men’s category, now renamed “Men’s/Open.”
While UCI cites the current state of scientific knowledge, they also acknowledge the potential for future policy changes as scientific knowledge evolves. They expressed a willingness to finance research on the effects of cross-sex hormones on athletes’ performance.
UCI emphasizes that they fully respect and support individuals’ right to choose the sex that aligns with their gender identity, regardless of their assigned sex at birth.
The decision to ban trans-identifying males comes after UCI faced criticism for defending their previous transgender policy. This criticism arose when biological male Austin Killips won several women’s competitions, including the women’s Belgian Waffle Ride in Asheville, North Carolina, last month.
Paige Onweller, who finished second to Killips, expressed that the winner’s power was incomparable to the women he raced against, stating that she couldn’t match his performance.
While some propose a separate category for trans-identifying athletes, event promoters are still exploring the best approach to preserve female cycling while creating an inclusive space for all participants.
Inga Thompson, a three-time Olympic cyclist, called for a protest against UCI due to the Killips controversy, claiming that the organization was effectively undermining women’s cycling. However, Thompson was subsequently dropped from the board of directors of Cynisca, an organization dedicated to promoting women cyclists.
UCI’s ban on trans-identifying males aligns with similar decisions made by other sports organizations. World Athletics and British Cycling have also implemented policies that prohibit men from competing in women’s categories.
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