British Cycling’s Transgender Policy: Everything You Need to Know

British Cycling has announced a new policy that bars transgender women from competing in the female category of its competitions. The decision follows a nine-month consultation and a review of scientific research. Under the new rules, the men’s division will be replaced by an “open category” that includes transgender men, transgender women, and non-binary individuals. The “female category” will be preserved for those assigned female at birth.

British Cycling cited research indicating that transgender women who transition after puberty retain a performance advantage even with the suppression of testosterone. The governing body apologized to transgender athletes for the delay in implementing the new policy and acknowledged the impact of the suspension of the previous policy.

Trans and non-binary individuals will still be able to participate in non-competitive events and activities. The decision has been met with criticism and backlash from transgender cyclist Emily Bridges, who called it a “violent act” and accused British Cycling of being a “failed organization.”

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British Cycling's Transgender Policy

British Cycling recently announced a new policy that bars transgender women from competing in the female category of its competitions. This decision comes after a nine-month review and consultation, aiming to ensure fairness in the sport. While the move has been met with criticism from some, British Cycling maintains that it is essential to safeguard competition integrity. In this article, we will delve into the details of the new policy, its rationale, and the implications it may have for transgender athletes and the cycling community as a whole.

Background and Controversy Surrounding Transgender Inclusion in Sports

The rise of transgender athletes in competitive sports has brought forth important discussions about fairness and inclusion. As more transgender women have sought to participate in women’s categories, concerns have been raised by some female athletes regarding the potential for a competitive advantage. This has sparked a debate on transgender inclusion policies and the need to strike a balance between creating inclusive spaces and maintaining fair competition.

British Cycling’s New Policy

Under British Cycling’s new policy, transgender women are now barred from competing in the female category. The intention behind this decision is to preserve the female category for those who were assigned female at birth. Additionally, the men’s division will be replaced with an open category, allowing all individuals to compete together.

The rationale behind this policy change is rooted in scientific research and considerations of performance advantages. Studies have shown that testosterone suppression in transgender women athletes does not completely eliminate the performance advantages gained through male puberty. This has led British Cycling to prioritize fairness and integrity in competition, with the belief that maintaining separate categories based on sex assigned at birth is the most equitable approach.

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Reactions and Controversies

British Cycling’s new policy has been met with both support and criticism. Elite female riders who have expressed concerns about fairness in competition have rallied behind the decision. However, there are also individuals within the transgender community who argue that the policy is discriminatory and exclusionary.

One prominent case is that of Emily Bridges, a transgender cyclist who aspired to compete in the female category. Bridges’ journey as a transgender athlete has been met with disappointment and criticism following the policy announcement. Her case highlights the personal and emotional impact these policies can have on individual athletes.

Critics have also pointed out flaws in British Cycling’s handling of the policy review process. Some argue that the organization failed to conduct nuanced discussions and research, resulting in a policy that lacks understanding of the complexities surrounding transgender inclusion in sports. Accusations of engaging in culture wars rather than prioritizing inclusivity have been leveled against British Cycling.

British Cycling’s Apology and Commitment to Inclusion

Recognizing the impact of their policy on transgender athletes, British Cycling has issued an apology. They acknowledge the uncertainty and upset caused by the suspension of transgender women’s participation in the female category. The organization has affirmed its commitment to providing continued opportunities for transgender and non-binary individuals to participate in various cycling activities outside of the competitive realm.

UCI’s Transgender Policy and International Impact

British Cycling’s policy change is not isolated, but rather part of a larger landscape concerning transgender inclusion in sports. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body for international cycling, currently has its own policy and eligibility criteria for transgender women. However, recent controversies and concerns have prompted a revisiting of these policies, with anticipated changes to be announced by the UCI in August.

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Perspectives on Transgender Inclusion in Sports

The issue of transgender inclusion in sports is complex and elicits a range of perspectives. Debates revolve around fairness and competitive advantages. Some argue that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s categories is important for promoting inclusivity and recognizing gender identity. They emphasize that hormone therapy and other medical interventions reduce any potential advantages gained through male puberty.

On the other hand, proponents of maintaining separate categories based on sex assigned at birth argue that biological differences cannot be disregarded. They believe that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s categories may create an unfair playing field, potentially impacting the opportunities and achievements of cisgender female athletes.

Finding a solution that balances inclusivity and fairness is undoubtedly challenging. It requires careful consideration of scientific research, consultation with stakeholders, and a commitment to understanding the experiences and concerns of all athletes involved.

Toward an Inclusive and Fair Future

The discussion surrounding transgender inclusion in sports is an ongoing dialogue that demands thoughtful analysis and compassionate understanding. Organizations such as British Cycling have an opportunity to foster inclusivity by engaging in open and transparent conversations, consulting with experts, and revisiting policies as new information emerges.

It is crucial to recognize that the experiences and needs of transgender athletes are diverse and should be approached with sensitivity. Policies should be based on scientific evidence, taking into account the physical and physiological aspects of athletic performance, while also considering the importance of gender identity.

Collaboration between sports organizations, athletes, medical professionals, and advocacy groups is essential to navigate the complexities of transgender inclusion in sports successfully. By working together, we can strive for fair and inclusive practices that respect the rights and identities of all athletes involved.


British Cycling’s new policy on transgender inclusion in competitive cycling reflects the ongoing debate surrounding fairness and inclusion in sports. While the decision to bar transgender women from the female category has faced criticism, British Cycling asserts that it is a necessary step to ensure fair competition.

The path toward transgender inclusion in sports requires a delicate balance between recognizing gender identity and preserving competitive integrity. It calls for comprehensive research, open dialogue, and a commitment to finding solutions that promote fairness and inclusivity for all athletes.

As the international sporting community continues to grapple with these challenges, it is essential to approach the discussion with empathy and respect, recognizing the unique experiences and concerns of transgender athletes. By striving for fairness, inclusivity, and understanding, we can work towards a future where all athletes have the opportunity to compete in a safe and equitable environment.

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