Recently, the world governing authority in the sport of cycling issued a decision to bar biological men from competing against women in the sport. The International Cycling Union (UCI) decided that males who transition after puberty will be ineligible to compete against women in cycling.
“From now on, female transgender athletes who have transitioned after (male) puberty will be prohibited from participating in women’s events on the UCI international calendar — in all categories — in the various disciplines,” the governing body stated.
The decision follows controversy surrounding Austin Killips, a transgender cyclist who recently won a women’s cycling event in May. Some have called it “simply unfair” that Killips was competing against women. Legendary female skateboarder Taylor Silverman took a stand against Killips participating in the women’s race.
“I hope that UCI and USA Cycling hears us and decides to change the rules that currently allow male athletes like Killips to compete in the women’s division because it’s simply unfair. And it is not right that the women have to miss out on their opportunities because of one person’s feelings,” Silverman said in a recent sports article about a women’s skateboarder and others protesting trans athletes participating in a cycling championship.
The UCI moved to review its transgender athlete policy following the public outcry. The cycling authority stated the new ruling was made to “ensure equal opportunities” for athletes in the sport. The UCI also questioned the notion of target levels of testosterone for transgender athletes, which purportedly would limit the benefits that men enjoy from elevated levels of the hormone.
The UCI said it “has taken note of the state of scientific knowledge, which does not confirm that at least two years of gender-affirming hormone therapy with a target plasma testosterone concentration of 2.5 nmol/L is sufficient to completely eliminate the benefits of testosterone during puberty in men.”
The cycling union scrutinized available scientific knowledge on the benefits biological males have in sports. The UCI stated it was difficult to “draw precise conclusions about the effects” of transgender hormone therapy. “Given the current state of scientific knowledge, it is also impossible to rule out the possibility that biomechanical factors such as the shape and arrangement of the bones in their limbs may constitute a lasting advantage for female transgender athletes,” the UCI stated.
The decision from the International Cycling Union follows other sports, such as Track and Field and Swimming, which have issued similar decisions regarding transgender athletes. The American Tribune reported on a decision issued by the World Athletics Council earlier this year that banned transgender athletes from competing in women’s ranked events.
The World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said, “Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations. We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage, which will inevitably develop over the coming years. As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”
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