British Cycling statement: Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy

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Full Press Release:

When we developed and published our Transgender and Non-binary Participation Policy, we did so with the intention of advancing the cause of promoting diversity and inclusion within the sport of cycling.

Understanding that this is a fast-moving area of sports policy and scientific research, we committed to reviewing our policy annually or more frequently, as required, to reflect emerging circumstances.

Due to the difference in the policies held by British Cycling and the UCI relating to the licensing process, it is currently possible for trans-female athletes to gain eligibility to race domestically while their cases remain pending with the UCI (or indeed in situations where they are deemed ineligible).

This in turn allows those riders to accrue domestic ranking points which impact selection decisions for National Championship races, which is not only unprecedented in our sport, but is also unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing.

We also understand that there are concerns regarding the extent to which our current policy appropriately reflects the Sports Councils’ Equality Group guidance, published in September 2021.

As a result of this, on Wednesday 6 April the British Cycling Board of Directors voted in favour of an immediate suspension of the current policy, pending a full review, which will be initiated in the coming weeks.

While the current policy was created following an extensive external and internal consultation, the review will allow us time for further discussion with all stakeholders, including women and the transgender and non-binary communities, as we strive to provide all within our sport with the clarity and understanding they deserve.

As an organisation we remain committed to ensuring that transgender and non-binary people are welcomed, supported and celebrated in the cycling community, and the inclusion of these groups within non-competitive activities remains unaffected by the suspension. We will also continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our sport remains free of hate, discrimination and abuse in all forms, and that we prioritise the welfare of riders, volunteers, event organisers, commissaires and others that our sport can’t continue without.

In the past week we have started in earnest our work to galvanise a coalition of organisations to come together to find a better answer, and have enjoyed productive discussions with national governing bodies 

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 90 total)
  • British Cycling statement: Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy
  • Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    Two flounces and a ban.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    British Cycling are currently in a very difficult position. The Prime Minister’s over simplistic and reactionary comments this week won’t have helped at all.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    This whole area is just really, really, hard. I can’t see any way that any kind of outcome that is not seen as discriminatory or unfair in some respect is even possible.

    From a purely practical sense though, it is a bit nuts that the BC and UCI rules don’t/didn’t align.

    Premier Icon judetheobscure
    Free Member

    In the future, I suspect we will have a third category of competition for transgender atheletes, addressing much the same need and issue as the paralympics do now.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    I suspect we will have a third category of competition for transgender atheletes

    But even then, to have that third category you have to define what is meant by transgender, which means you have to (I think) define what is male and female, and I think that there is a growing acceptance that the mere presence of a willy or muff doesn’t cut it any more.

    Premier Icon andrewh
    Free Member

    In the future, I suspect we will have a third category of competition for transgender atheletes, addressing much the same need and issue as the paralympics do now.

    It won’t though.
    The paralymics have umpteen categories to try to get a level playing field, blind athletes do not race amputees for example.
    ‘Transgender’ cannot be one category. Someone who was born a man but is a now a woman will be physically very different from someone who was born a woman but is now a man. The classification needs to be based on what you were born as, in which case the current male/female works very well.
    .
    Women becoming men are likely to be much less of an issue, it’s rare for a woman to beat men in a sport (I can think of a couple of long distance runners but they are very much the minority) whereas most half-decent men who become women are likely to dominate in most sports where strength/power is a factor.
    It would end up be logical to select ‘women’s’ teams made up entirely of transgender men to take advantage of this.

    Premier Icon csb
    Full Member

    Are we then saying that being born into the wrong gender is a disability?

    Premier Icon BruceWee
    Full Member

    I think it’s a really complex situation and individual sports are going to have to carefully gauge how they assess the impact going through male puberty has on performance within their sport. It’s further complicated when you have sports like cycling with a huge range of events with different physical requirements.

    I think there can be a lot of positives that come out of it though. Not least of which is asking ourselves why we separate children’s sport by gender.

    The classification needs to be based on what you were born as, in which case the current male/female works very well

    Unless you’re born intersex/DSD.

    Premier Icon martymac
    Full Member

    It is very tricky though, i have a mate who used to be a woman.
    He’s definitely not a woman now, in any way, physically, visually etc.
    But although he’s legally a man, he’s not as strong as someone born male, I’d guess this is testosterone related.
    So where would he compete?*
    With the men? Not really strong enough
    With the women? He’s definitely not a woman, so that would be unfair on female competitors.
    It really is a nightmare for the people who have to make some sort of decision on these things, it’s incredibly easy to cause offence and/or appear insensitive.

    * He aint the sporty type, it’s a hypothetical question.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    in which case the current male/female works very well

    I don’t think it does though, I may be wrong.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    he’s not as strong as someone born male, I’d guess this is testosterone related.

    It absolutely is, and this is one of the main biological issues – going through male puberty involves much higher levels of testosterone, which leads to much greater muscle growth, which leads to greater strength. Even if they later transition, that ‘base’ of strength is always there, which gives an athletic advantage over someone who went through female puberty.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    I can’t see how this can resolved in any other way other than by individual case, and probably on individual sports, (so the rules for say Cycling may be different to basketball, or weightlifting) and it might even be the rules that apply to one athlete will perhaps not even apply to another even within the same sport

    I think trying to throw blanket regulations over this and calling it “sorted” are doomed to failure

    EDIT: The point of the exercise (to my mind) isn’t to decide whether anyone is male or female, but what’s fair. Everyone lining up at the start should have as much chance as the next person to go for the win.

    Premier Icon Gary Biles
    Full Member

    Agree with @andrewh someone born male who goes thru puberty and then changes to female will have a massive physical advantage over someone born female. It definitely wouldn’t be a level playing field. Also check out Prof Robert Winston’s comments on this subject on Question Time last year.

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    With the women? He’s definitely not a woman, so that would be unfair on female competitors.

    I read about an example of this only this week. As long as he maintains the low level of testosterone required by the sport there seems to be no issue about competing with women – Iszac Henig.

    Premier Icon shakeyjake
    Free Member

    Talking of base fitness and reaping the benefits of going throw puberty as a male and then transitioning. If that was to be applied evenly, you should also say that people that have doped in the past should be banned for life. I know some people do think this way.
    I’m not trying to conflate the two issues, I’m just trying to show how complicated this is as echoed by many above.

    Premier Icon BruceWee
    Full Member

    Agree with @andrewh someone born male who goes thru puberty and then changes to female will have a massive physical advantage over someone born female.

    For all sports?

    Fiona Kolbinger might have something to say about that.

    what about rock climbing? Woman are pretty much on par with men.

    I think blanket statements like this are far too simplistic for what is a very complex situation.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Free Member

    EDIT: The point of the exercise (to my mind) isn’t to decide whether anyone is male or female, but what’s fair.

    This is the fundamental principle, I agree. And there have been some situations which clearly don’t look fair (to the rest of the field).

    It’s a massively thorny issue obvs, as ideals of inclusivity and equality conflict with fairness and the utilitarian prinicple (the good of the many).

    Not everyone can win in sport, eh?

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Free Member

    very good article from a few months ago

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2021/dec/13/swimming-trans-debate-starting-to-change

    “Some will argue that sport is never truly fair, that Michael Phelps’s big wingspan gave him genetic advantages too. But male puberty provides such a categorical advantage – in terms of muscle mass, strength, lean body mass and bone density – that it far exceeds the advantage of a few centimetres in arm length.”

    and

    “However, for Dr Nicola Williams, a spokeswoman for Fair Play For Women, the best solution would be for men to “budge up and be more inclusive” by allowing trans women and trans men into an open or universal category, with a separate category exclusively preserved for natal females.”

    Premier Icon kevog
    Free Member

    Are we then saying that being born into the wrong gender is a disability?

    about as much as other mental health conditions can be regarded as disabilities?

    Premier Icon stephen
    Free Member

    I don’t think current gender classification for sport is really helping anyone. There’s been non-transgender female athletes barred from competing because their physiology gives them an advantage – can’t imagine that happening for men.

    Until someone can come up with an effective way of classifying physical capability regardless of gender, we’re stuck with what we have, and excluding trans athletes doesn’t seem at all fair. Is there any actual evidence of trans women dominating female sport or is it all scaremongering?

    Premier Icon TwoPintTony
    Free Member

    Have a watch of Sigma sports cafe ride with Phillipa York. There was some real insight into the loss of strength following transitioning from male to female

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    From the BC statement…

    While the current policy was created following an extensive external and internal consultation, the review will allow us time for further discussion with all stakeholders, including women and the transgender and non-binary communities

    Doubling down on their “consultation” process. Good to see they are including women in the further discussion though.

    Premier Icon mert
    Free Member

    @shakeyjake

    If that was to be applied evenly, you should also say that people that have doped in the past should be banned for life. I know some people do think this way.

    I’ve raced against ex dopers, and depending on the drugs they’ve used, the dosage, how long they did it for, how well they responded and how long it is since they “stopped” (though that is still open to further investigation!) the differences are noticeable for serious amounts of time. Months to years sort of timescale.


    @brucewee

    For all sports?

    No, that’s why everyone keeps saying rules like this are really, really hard to create and are always going to pi55 someone off.

    Premier Icon Convert
    Full Member

    Could we not have a protected biologically women’s category and an open category for everyone else?

    Competitive sport is a funny one and in no way shape or form a level playing field. The vast vast majority of biological men who through no fault of their own would not be competitive in any given sport. Purely because they not predisposed to be tall enough, short enough, flexible enough, have a good enough CV system etc etc. Most of us spend the first 15-20 years of our lives getting used to the fact that we will never amount to much at a world level in any sport. The best we can do is be healthy, compare our performance from one event to the next AND ENJOY IT!

    Too much of this debate has been allowed to focus on competitive sport and fairness – let’s get the debate where it really needs to be around acceptance and participation in healthy pastimes for healthy minds and bodies.

    Premier Icon BruceWee
    Full Member

    No, that’s why everyone keeps saying rules like this are really, really hard to create and are always going to pi55 someone off.

    Not everyone, hence why I asked them if their blanket statement covered all sports.

    People who use blanket statements for all sports often seem to want blanket solutions for all sports (on both sides of the debate).

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    I think trying to throw blanket regulations over this and calling it “sorted” are doomed to failure

    This.

    I think blanket statements like this are far too simplistic for what is a very complex situation.

    And this.

    No, that’s why everyone keeps saying rules like this are really, really hard to create and are always going to pi55 someone off.

    And this.

    But we should try, rather than have blanket exclusions for trans people in competitive sport just because that is the “simple” approach that everyone who isn’t trans can easily understand.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Free Member

    let’s get the debate where it really needs to be around acceptance and participation in healthy pastimes for healthy minds and bodies.

    I’m all for this, but the debate is specifically about inclusion in elite competition.

    Premier Icon ScotRoutes
    Full Member

    I’m all for this, but the debate is specifically about inclusion in elite competition.

    This one is, though there are still some issues around inclusion at “lower” levels – such as Women-only swimming sessions.

    Premier Icon mogrim
    Free Member

    This one is, though there are still some issues around inclusion at “lower” levels – such as Women-only swimming sessions.

    Not to mention non-elite popular races, which often include monetary prizes.

    Premier Icon t3ap0t
    Free Member

    The Sport England guidance document seems very fair and sensible to me from how I’ve heard it summarised and what I’ve read myself as someone who is interested in the debate and has no skin in the game.

    Found here:
    https://equalityinsport.org/docs/300921/Guidance%20for%20Transgender%20Inclusion%20in%20Domestic%20Sport%202021.pdf

    Some of the summary:

    “the Guidance concludes that the inclusion of transgender people into
    female sport cannot be balanced regarding transgender inclusion, fairness and safety in gender-affected sport
    where there is meaningful competition. This is due to retained differences in strength, stamina and physique
    between the average woman compared with the average transgender woman or non-binary person assigned
    male at birth, with or without testosterone suppression.
    Sports, however, are incredibly diverse and there can be no ‘one-size fits all’ approach. This review has concluded
    therefore that, for many sports, there may not be a common single competition model which will meet the
    needs of full transgender inclusion while retaining competitive fairness, particularly in female sport.
    We are therefore encouraging and advising NGBs and SGBs to define the best options for their sport and
    determine whether it may be possible to offer more than one version of their sport to achieve the different aims”

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Full Member

    Agree with  @andrewh someone born male who goes thru puberty and then changes to female will have a massive physical advantage over someone born female. It definitely wouldn’t be a level playing field.

    I know this is a relatively new subject but women’s sport is not being over run by TG athletes. There was an interview with a TG AMAB athlete who also happens to be a sports scientist at Loughborough on the radio this week. Her own experience was very interesting, her numbers are vastly different than her numbers pre-transition. And while there are some aspects that will not change (as above eg wingspan and hand size which can be advatages in swimming) in general the playing field is more level in reality than people think.

    The concern, and a fair one, is that the levels of hormones allowed to compete as a woman could provide an advantage. The very fair point she made was that those levels would effect a very poor MtF transition and first and foremost she wants to live her life as a woman and therefore take enough drugs (and surgeries) to do that. She’s an athlete second, and while she’ll never stop being an athlete the compromise for the overwhelming majority of athletes she knows is heavily on the life first, medals a very distant second.

    Of course in time probably someone is going to game the system to take the minimum drugs to just pass a threshold and be as competitive as possible. Let’s call that out when it happens.

    about as much as other mental health conditions can be regarded as disabilities?

    Careful. That’s a major issue for many TG people, particularly young people. To be told that because of their (almost inevitable, IMHO) depression and MH issues, they are not in the right place to be making decisions about transitioning treatments. And they won’t be listened to seriously until they are in a better place*. But the very thing they are being denied, is the cause of the MH issue. Not the other way round.

    * and as posted a few days back, but it killed the thread; CAMHS is fuck all use due to chronic underfunding and an arse about face approach. Two years to get counselling, for the counsellor to then say they’re not suggesting you for intervention because you’re depressed and that has to be sorted first is inhumane. Thank God I have enough savings to sort this for my AFAB son privately; not everyone is as fortunate.

    Premier Icon Convert
    Full Member

    I’m all for this, but the debate is specifically about inclusion in elite competition.

    But to a certain extent that is what I’m driving at. If you adopted my approach with a protected biological women’s category then an open category for everyone else this situation would not exist. Trans participants that had previously participated in the open category would remain there. If they had participated in the women’s category there might come a point where they would need to move to the open category and be non competitive like the vast majority of other participants.

    I’m not too convinced being eligible for elite women’s sport for those previously male participants will be high on the priority list for many people going through this. Most have significantly bigger concerns and priorities. To me the issue here has been an expectation that they could compete and a feeling of being let down. You’d hope we could move past that in time once policies have bedded in. And if they feel ‘disadvantaged’ by not being able to aspire to being an elite female athlete… so what? The vast majority of the world’s population cope with this disappointment on a daily basis. It’s just life. I am not Ronaldo and if I identified as a woman I would not be Rapinoe either.

    Side note – an open category where biologically female athlete could enter automatically without invitation and kick a few male butts would be kind of cool too.

    Premier Icon mogrim
    Free Member

    If you adopted my approach with a protected biological women’s category then an open category for everyone else this situation would not exist.

    But you are of course saying that the trans woman would have to publically recognise that they were born male, and isn’t allowed to compete with other women as a woman. This may be the only way to keep (most?) women’s sports competitive, but it’s still not without its problems.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    If you adopted my approach with a protected biological women’s category then an open category for everyone else this situation would not exist.

    It also doesn’t make any sense for most sports, and the few it would work for would probably benefit from only having one category for all anyway.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Full Member

    I know the article is about elite level, but going wider, the other issue with a blanket ‘ban’ is the impact on lower level particularly team sports. Where does someone who is a decent footballer (say higher level local leagues?) go as an AMAB woman? If a blanket rule required TG athletes to participate as TG, where does she find a team of 11-14 other TG footballers of the same sort of ability…. and a league’s worth to play against? Where is the fairness in banning her from playing women’s sport at that level?

    (open can of worms on ‘just wants to do it to be able to look at boobs in the changing room after.’…..)

    Premier Icon Convert
    Full Member

    It also doesn’t make any sense for most sports, and the few it would work for would probably benefit from only having one category for all anyway.

    Why not?

    Premier Icon Convert
    Full Member

    But you are of course saying that the trans woman would have to publicly recognise that they were born male, and isn’t allowed to compete with other women as a woman.

    My prophecy on this is that given time this will become a none issue. The stigma will disappear in time and people will be more open about who they are and their journey. I’m not too comfortable with the ‘dead name’ culture we currently have. Dead naming (as in calling someone by their old name in the present tense) is not cool but I do hope people will in time feel more comfortable with acknowledging their own past and having others refer to it.

    Premier Icon chrismac
    Full Member

    My view is that you need to separate how some one chooses to live and identify, which is entirely up to the individual, and what they are genetically born as. From the perspective of elite sport then I think people should compete on the basis of what they are genetically. When the rules were written and male and female categories were created it is this genetic difference that they were looking to accommodate. That hasn’t changed, as genetics hasn’t so seems an entirely rational consistent.

    Premier Icon imnotverygood
    Full Member

    what about rock climbing? Woman are pretty much on par with men.

    In that case why bother with having different sex based categories for those particular sports?

    Premier Icon chrismac
    Full Member

    what about rock climbing? Woman are pretty much on par with men.

    At professional / elite level the difference in pretty much is the difference between winning and not making the top 20.

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