By Alexa Schwerha
A national cycling organization announced on Friday that male competitors will no longer be able to compete in the female category regardless of their stated gender identity.
British Cycling, the national governing body of the sport, updated its Transgender and Non-Binary Participation policy to consolidate the male category in competitive races into an “open” category that will be available to male athletes and those who identify as transgender or non-binary, according to its website. The decision came after the governing body temporarily suspended the policy in 2022 to conduct “a full review of the available medical science and carry out a targeted consultation with our communities.”
“We recognise the impact the suspension of our policy has had on trans and non-binary people, and we are sorry for the uncertainty and upset that many have felt during this period,” the website reads. “Our aim in creating our policies has always been to advance and promote equality, diversity and inclusion, while at the same time prioritising fairness of competition. This aim has not changed: it has been central to our review and we remain committed to this vital work.”
Emily Bridges, a transgender cyclist, issued a statement on her Instagram slamming British cycling as a “failed organisation” and the decision as “an act of violence.”
“When the government is expressing admiration towards Ron DeSantis’ fascist state which kidnaps children, and is itching to pass legislation to ban us from public life, this is a violent act,” Bridges wrote. “British Cycling are supporting this, they are furthering a genocide against us. Bans from sport is how it starts, look at what is going on in America.”
The policy was paused after Bridges sought to compete in the female category at the National Omnium Championships, ESPN reported.
The ruling is broken down into two policies — one for competitive activity and one for non-competitive activity, according to the website. While the female division is reserved for only biological women at the competitive level, the “women-only community programme” in the non-competitive “Breeze programme” will allow male cyclists who identify as women or as non-binary.
The non-competitive policy furthers the organization’s “equality, diversity and inclusion strategy” and emphasizes its “commitment to inclusion for trans and non-binary riders across our non-competitive activities,” the website reads.
“I am confident that we have developed policies that both safeguard the fairness of cyclesport competition, whilst ensuring all riders have opportunities to participate,” Jon Dutton, British Cycling CEO, said in the press release.
The policies will be reviewed “annually and more frequently as the medical science develops,” Dutton said. He stated that the non-competitive category will remain “a positive and welcoming environment, where everyone can feel like they belong and are respected in our community, and take action to eradicate discrimination from the sport.”