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British Cycling Reshapes Transgender & Non-Binary Participation Policies, Creates New Category

British Cycling updates Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policies

After more than a year since they cancelled their previous policy followed by a review and consideration process, British Cycling is back with a major reshaping of the policies defining how transgender & non-binary athletes can participate in cycling events held under the British Cycling umbrella in the UK. Said to have been developed through a detailed 9-month-long internal evaluation of peer-reviewed medical research and cycling community consultation, the new official policy is now broken down into two very separate approaches, whether IN or OUT of competition.

British Cycling update Transgender and Non-Binary Participation policies

First, is the “Policy for Competitive Activity” which takes a more hardline ‘assigned-at-birth’ approach to who can compete in the “Female” categories at racing events, while at the same time reshaping the previous Male categories now as “Open” where any male, female, trans, or non-binary athlete can choose to compete against each other.

The second separate approach is the new “Policy for Non-Competitive Activity” that British Cycling describes as building on a ‘long-term commitment to inclusion. There outside of racing competition, their Breeze women-only events can remain open to any women including those who identify as women or as non-binary.

Implementation, Impacts & Response

British Cycling indicates that their board has agreed with making the new policies official in April, and will roll them out for implementation in coordination with event organizers in full, by the end of this year 2023.

We are curious how this new British policy differs from the UCI’s official Transgender Athlete policy – which has been dependent on established testosterone levels, but is apparently also currently under review according to this story published by The Guardian earlier this month. And how will the two impact each other, especially with the all-important multi-disciplinary UCI World Championships being held in Scotland this summer – where many athletes will be racing under a British Cycling license but at UCI events?

One thing we do know for sure is that this new policy will be controversial. We’ve already seen since this was just released this morning, that many transgender & non-binary athletes are speaking up at what they see as a devastating move by British Cycling.

We also are were a bit unclear about some vague word choice, or possibly a missing element, in the newly published policy’s statement of which transgender or non-binary athletes are authorized to compete in the ‘Female’ category, and which can compete in the ‘Open’ category only. We’ve reached out to British Cycling for a clarification, but have not yet received a response. We will update when we hear back.

Update: British Cycling has clarified that the use of the word ‘they’ in their original statement “refers to transgender men” after they begin hormone therapy. See the amended text below.

Complete statement from British Cycling on Transgender & Non-Binary athletes

Read the full statement from British Cycling below:

Update: Transgender and Non-Binary Participation policies
In April 2022 we suspended our Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy so that we could 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. 

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.

The nine-month policy review was led by an internal working group, made up of a broad range of representatives from across British Cycling, Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling. During these nine months, the working group undertook a targeted consultation consisting of 14 focus groups and a number of one-to-one interviews (including dedicated sessions for female Race Licence holders and trans and non-binary members). 

We also conducted a full medical science review, followed by an assessment of the practical changes and support needed to ensure the policy’s successful implementation. The review process was independently audited to confirm the strength of its governance and supported by external legal advice.

The review has led to two new policies being created: Policy for Competitive Activity, which relates to all British Cycling-sanctioned competitive events, and Policy for Non-Competitive Activity, which builds on the long-term commitment to inclusion set out in our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, Our Ride.

The British Cycling Board endorsed the two new policies in April. We will provide further information on our exact implementation date to our members and event organisers in due course, and expect to have implemented both policies in full by the end of 2023.

Policy for Competitive Activity
The Policy for Competitive Activity covers all British Cycling-sanctioned competitive events. It will see the implementation of an ‘Open’ category alongside a ‘Female’ category. This means that the current men’s category will be consolidated into the ‘Open’ category.

Transgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals and those whose sex was assigned male at birth will be eligible to compete in the ‘Open’ category. The ‘Female’ category will remain in place for those whose sex was assigned female at birth and transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy. At this stage they transgender men who have already begun hormone therapy* will be eligible to compete in the ‘Open’ category only, and should ensure that they continue to adhere to the requirements of UK Anti-Doping. Those whose sex was assigned female at birth are also able to compete in the ‘Open’ category if they so wish.

Existing Race Licences held by transgender women will continue to be valid until the point at which the new policy comes into force, and we are working closely with those individuals to support their continued participation in events following the change in policy.

In the case of ‘International Events’ which are delivered in the UK on behalf of the UCI (such as the UCI Track Nations Cup), or events on the UCI calendar owned and delivered by independent organisers (such as The Women’s Tour), the UCI policy on eligibility will take precedence.

Policy for Non-Competitive Activity
The Policy for Non-Competitive Activity builds on our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, Our Ride, and re-asserts our commitment to inclusion for trans and non-binary riders across our non-competitive activities.

This includes our Breeze programme, a women-only community programme, which will continue to remain open and inclusive for transgender women and non-binary people. 

Trans and non-binary people can also continue to participate in a broad range of British Cycling activities in line with their gender identities, including: club and coach-led activities, ability based race programmes (such as Go-Race events), community programmes, Talent Development Centres and non-competitive events such as sportives.

Throughout the implementation period we will be commencing a programme of digital improvements which will widen the gender options available to members and participants across our platforms.

You can find a full list of FAQs here.

British Cycling CEO, Jon Dutton, said:

Our new policies are the product of a robust nine-month review process which we know will have a very real-world impact for our community both now and in the future. We understand that this will be particularly difficult for many of our trans and non-binary riders, and our commitment to them today is twofold.

First, we will continue to assess our policy annually and more frequently as the medical science develops, and will continue to invite those impacted to be an integral part of those conversations. Second, we will also continue to ensure that our non-competitive activities provide 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.”

I am confident that we have developed policies that both safeguard the fairness of cyclesport competition, whilst ensuring all riders have opportunities to participate.” 

We have always been very clear that this is a challenge far greater than one sport. We remain committed to listening to our communities and working with our fellow sporting bodies to monitor changes in the scientific and policy landscape, to ensure that sport is inclusive for all. We have been open and transparent with the UCI on our decision and will work collaboratively with them to ensure a seamless implementation over the coming months.

I’d finally like to thank everyone who has supported this process over the past 12 months to ensure that we reached our decision in the right way. This includes the British Cycling, Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling staff in our policy working group, and those who participated in our consultation.

We stand steadfast behind our zero-tolerance approach to harassment, bullying and discrimination, and will not hesitate to take action on any breaches of our Code of Conduct, including our zero-tolerance approach to all cases of discriminatory language or behaviour.

If you are subject to or aware of instances of such behaviour, we urge you to report them to us directly at compliance@britishcycling.org.uk where they will be handled in confidence by our dedicated team. 

Further information on the two policies and our review process can be found in a comprehensive list of FAQs. We will also be providing further information for event organisers, clubs, coaches and community programme volunteers in the coming weeks, through written updates and webinars, as we move into the implementation phase.


*note: This amendment to the official statement of British Cycling has been made by us, in response to a clarification message provided to Bikerumor by Thomas Turner, Head of Communications for British Cycling.

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