CX World Champs Race Director Issues Statement on ‘discriminatory and hateful’ decision

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Brook Watts, the Race Director of the CX World Championships in 2022 which are due to take place in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has issued a statement following the passing of recent legislation that bans trans athletes from taking part in some sports in Arkansas.

Arkansas is just one of many US states in which legislation has either been proposed or passed that bans trans women and girls from taking part in school and university sports consistent with their gender identity. While these bills have attracted controversy in many states, the issue has been brought into sharp focus in Arkansas due to its hosting of the CX World Championships.

With the CX World Championships being a UCI event, campaigners argue that preventing trans athletes from participating in sports is against the UCI’s constitution which states:

The UCI will carry out its activities in compliance with the principles of:
a) equality between all the members and all the athletes, licence-holders and officials, without racial, political, religious, gender-related or other discrimination;

UCI constitution

We believe that sport is inclusive. People should feel comfortable participating in cycling, regardless of gender, gender identity, race, class, or any other perceived difference. Cycling is a global sport that benefits from diversity in all ways.

USA Cycling, Inclusion and Diversity mission statement

As the recently passed bill addresses school and university sports, it appears that the ban will not directly prevent athletes from participating the the CX World Championships, but some campaigners say that the race should not go ahead in a location where the law does not support the UCI’s constitution and policies. Race Director Brook Watts has issued the following statement, expressing his objections to the legislation but encouraging riders to continue to support the event and instead to donate to an organisation working to oppose the legislation:

I usually keep my political views to myself but I cannot keep silent about what’s going on in Arkansas. The decision made by Gov. Hutchinson to sign SB-354, a bill that bans transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity is discriminatory and hateful.

This bigotry and harm on the part of the governor and the state legislature completely contradicts the community I’ve gotten to know in the past 36 months as race organizer contracted by the City of Fayetteville. The community of Fayetteville that I know is one that is accepting and affirming to all genders. This community – the local racers, hard-working local businesses, race personnel and hundreds of volunteers, have worked incredibly hard to put this event on, and we owe it to them to see it through to fruition in Fayetteville.

Now more than ever, we are committed to creating an event that is safe and affirming to our GBTQIA athletes, spectators and staff and I hope you’ll join us in January.

I understand those who feel the need to boycott this event in light of this legislation – I share your anger towards this blatant discrimination. However, I encourage you to think of the community that has worked to make this happen and instead, take action in another way. Consider donating to one of the many organizations in Arkansas that are fighting to make the state inclusive for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-confirming individuals such as the Fayetteville Trans Equality Network @transequalitynetwork or the www.aclu.org.

Brook Watts, Race Director
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Some riders and campaigners have said they won’t be attending the event following the passage of this legislation, and have encouraged athletes and team to write to the UCI and their federations to object to the event going ahead.

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The CX World Championships is a major event seen as an opportunity to showcase an area to the wider world, and it’s thought that the Walton Foundation’s financial backing has been instrumental securing the event. Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, just north of Fayetteville, the presence of the Walton Foundation and Walmart HQ (both were founded by the Walton family) has seen the area’s economy grow and Bentonville become a hot new mountain bike destination. However, the Bentonville and Fayetteville areas are seen as liberal outliers in a state that is socially conservative – recent legislation banning abortion in the state had already attracted calls from some to reconsider where they spend their money, and there are more legislative proposals waiting for consideration that include restrictions on medical treatment for trans people.

Campaigners have highlighted the potential influence of major sports events – and associated money – in changing the course of legislation. Whether the CX World Championships becomes subject to an official stance from any cycling governing bodies, or a coordinated move on the part of athletes, riders and visitors, remains to be seen.


Comments (14)

    UCI has morals and a backbone?!? Well done Brook Watts!

    Hmmm… What about all these girls and women working their hearts off for years to compete, participate and win to only being swept away to the background by trans athletes? Some gut wrenching confessions can be easily find on YT.

    Not so obvious, easy and straightforward case I would say…

    I’m very, very happy I’m not competitive and not a woman in such situation.
    Cheers!
    I.

    IvanMTB, I was wondering how long it would be before someone started repeating the damaging, not to mention factually incorrect tropes that always seem to come up when talking about transgender athletes. Have a read of this interview with a trans DH world cup racer and you’ll realise it’s much more complex than you think. https://www.wideopenmountainbike.com/2019/07/kate-weatherly-new-zealand-downhill-mountain-biker-interview

    Let me just quote myself, if by any chance you missed it:

    “Not so obvious, easy and straightforward case I would say…”

    That, at least in my money, falls into category of “you’ll realise it’s much more complex than you think.”

    Cheers!
    I.

    Antony de Heveningham
    Something you were waiting patiently to jump on, problem is you might have been rather to eager in your rhetoric. IvanMTB said “Not so obvious, easy and straightforward case I would say…” so why you felt the need to say “you’ll realise it’s much more complex than you think” as I think he seemed well aware of the complex nature of the argument.

    There are two sides to this and BOTH need to be thought about , it seems the biggest issue is with what were Male athletes competing as women, I would hope that decisions on this would be taken by women involved in sport not by men or other gender groups, I can’t possibly shove my view at this because I can’t possibly know what it’s like on either side.

    Ok then. Can either of you summarise your concerns with the way the UCI currently determines whether trans athletes can compete?

    “Ok then” No it’s not okay then.
    “Can either of you summarise…..” NO, I was quite clear in my post.

    It is massively complicated thing, with sociological, scientific and medical grounds. It generates very polarising opinions and both sides are claiming various studies to support their interpretations.
    So jumping to one conclusion, especially when in this time and age there seems to be no available, large scale, repeated and verified data is very emotionally loaded bling shooting only
    I can’t even imagine what it must be like for both biological and trans women to deal with such circumstances.
    l’m not even remotely qualified to offer working solution. But I strongly believe it should be in the hands of women to decide how to proceed from this point onwards.
    Cheers!
    I

    I’m no doubt going to show my complete ignorance here, but why is it specifically female trans athletes?
    Knowing nothing about this, does that cover male > female only or is it covering both? (Again, due to my lack of knowledge I don’t know if I’ve now offended anyone, if so, it wasn’t intentional, sorry).
    It sounds a very complex issue and something that isn’t going to be fixed quickly as there will be many discussions needed.

    “It is massively complicated thing, with sociological, scientific and medical grounds. It generates very polarising opinions and both sides are claiming various studies to support their interpretations.

    l’m not even remotely qualified to offer working solution. But I strongly believe it should be in the hands of women to decide how to proceed from this point onwards.”

    So why are you making arguments in support of an outright ban on trans women, enacted by a legislature with (checks notes) one of the lowest numbers of women in the US?

    “So why are you making arguments in support of an outright ban on trans women”
    I’m sorry but who is doing that ? (So far nobody would be my answer)

    The obvious answer is to make all races inclusive and eliminate women’s events. That would make everyone equally unhappy.

    Also remove age classifications, that’s discriminatory too.

    It doesn’t really matter in sport how people identify what matters is their sex. Sports are divided by sex to ensure and fairness for women and girls.
    By allowing males, however they identify into women’s sport then women lose out.

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