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New UCI Rules Mean Transgender Women Must Compete In New Men’s/Open Category… For Now?

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Shortly following the news of British Cycling reshaping its rules regarding transgender participation policies, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced a major rule change earlier today. Effective July 17th, “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.”

Rather than competing in the women’s category, female transgender athletes will be allowed to compete in the renamed Men/Open category. According to the UCI press release, “any athlete who does not meet the conditions for participation in women’s events will be admitted without restriction.” Notably absent are any mentions athletes who may have transitioned before puberty. Given the new Men/Open category, male transgender athletes would be free to compete here as well.

The rule change comes after a seminar organized by the UCI on June, 21st which included “the various stakeholders – transgender and cisgender athletes, experts from the scientific, legal and human rights fields, and sporting institutions.” Following the seminar where all sides discussed their positions, a meeting was held on July, 5th where the new rule changes were decided.

The press release states that the UCI Management Committee concluded that “the current state of scientific knowledge” suggests that even with at least two years of gender-affirming hormone therapy with a target plasma testosterone concentration of 2.5 nmol/L, female transgender may still have an advantage from undergoing male puberty.

While the rules take effect next week, UCI states that they will be working with other international sporting organiazations and co-financing a new research program with the intent of studying “changes in the physical performance of highly-trained athletes undergoing transitional hormone treatment.”

Importantly, they state that “[rules] may change in the future as scientific knowledge evolves.”

Read the full press release below:

From the UCI:

At an extraordinary meeting held on 5 July, the Management Committee of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) decided to adapt the current UCI rules on the right of female transgender athletes to take part in competitions on the UCI International Calendar.

The meeting of the UCI Management Committee was held following a seminar on the conditions for the participation of transgender athletes in women’s cycling events, organised by the UCI on 21 June, at which the various stakeholders – transgender and cisgender athletes, experts from the scientific, legal and human rights fields, and sporting institutions – were able to present their respective positions.

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. 

For international Masters events – races on the UCI Cycling for All International Calendar and UCI events (UCI Gran Fondo World Series, UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, UCI Gravel World Series, UCI Gravel World Championships and UCI Masters World Championships) –, the Men’s category will be renamed Men/Open, and any athlete who does not meet the conditions for participation in women’s events will be admitted without restriction.

The UCI Management Committee 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. In addition, there is considerable inter-individual variability in response to gender-confirming hormone therapy, which makes it even more difficult to draw precise conclusions about the effects of such treatment. 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.

Taking these findings into account, the UCI Management Committee considered the interests of transgender athletes in being able to take part in sporting competitions against those of athletes in the female category, which is considered a protected class. In this context, the UCI Management Committee concluded, considering the remaining scientific uncertainties, that it was necessary to take this measure to protect the female class and ensure equal opportunities.

For more information on the current state of scientific knowledge on the effects of gender-affirming treatment on performance markers in transgender female cyclists: Prof. Xavier Bigard, “The current knowledge on the effects of gender-affirming treatment on markers of performance in transgender female cyclists”, updated May 2023.

The new rules will come into force on 17 July 2023. They may change in the future as scientific knowledge evolves. With this in mind, the UCI will begin discussions with other members of the international sporting movement on the co-financing of a research programme aimed at studying changes in the physical performance of highly-trained athletes undergoing transitional hormone treatment.

UCI President David Lappartient said: “First of all, the UCI would like to reaffirm that cycling – as a competitive sport, leisure activity or means of transport – is open to everyone, including transgender people, whom we encourage like everyone else to take part in our sport. I would also like to reaffirm that the UCI fully respects and supports the right of individuals to choose the sex that corresponds to their gender identity, whatever sex they were assigned at birth. However, it has a duty to guarantee, above all, equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions. It is this imperative that led the UCI to conclude that, given the current state of scientific knowledge does not guarantee such equality of opportunity between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants, it was not possible, as a precautionary measure, to authorise the former to race in the female categories.”

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Velo Kitty
Velo Kitty
9 months ago

It is so ridiculous that racing in the women’s class was ever allowed in the first place. The UCI should issue an apology for what they have allowed over the last few years.

Now it’s time for USA Cycling to implement a complete ban also.

Dinger
Dinger
8 months ago
Reply to  Velo Kitty

It’s an unfortunate and difficult situation but there are really no villains here. I think the UCI was right to try inclusivity first but it hasn’t worked out. The UCI has recognized that women’s cycling is still fragile and have changed course to protect it. FWIW I would also refrain from using the word “ban”. It implies that transgender athletes are committing some sort of crime which they are not.They just want to race and be accepted and included where they feel they belong.

I believe USAC is following the UCI’s direction on this as well.

Ken
Ken
9 months ago

Oh, good. I can stop boycotting everything with UCI on it.

NegativeYoda
NegativeYoda
8 months ago

Can’t wait to see enlightened hot takes in these comments

sirbikealot
8 months ago

I read the science article posted on the UCI website. I’m only interested in the scientific research and will leave the ethics for another post. But essentially they based this “decision” on grip strength tests (after one year of testosterone reducers) and push up tests (after one year of testosterone reducers). The writer of the article many times stated that their isn’t enough testing out there yet and there is ZERO testing in cycling, LET THAT SINK IN…… Yes some exhibit additional strength in some areas of the body, other areas of the body yield no additional strength. So to be fair they truly do not have the data to make this decision. They’ve made this decision to quell the people screaming “its unfair” but truly we just don’t know that yet. I wonder who will get their own categories next? Dopers only Category?

Mgr
Mgr
8 months ago
Reply to  sirbikealot

Or you could turn it around.

How where they allowed to compete with women in the first place when there’s been zero testing?

sirbikealot
8 months ago
Reply to  Mgr

they are human beings, your suggesting “guilty” before proven…. Bans don’t work, we’ve seen that time and time again…..

Dave
Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  sirbikealot

I appreciate your take and yes, there is a TON of work to do on the research and testing front. I think it’s fair to say we’re barely getting started. I think what’s missing from this debate is that we’re conflating sex with gender and those are two vastly different things. The separation of male and female classes in sport is based on sex which is biological and not gender which is a social construct. Nothing reinforces that more than the fact that no one cares if transgender men race in the male category. The reason no one cares about that is that transgender men can’t win. Never will. I’m personally supportive of the separation of male and female classes in sport and agree that transgender women should not race in the female class. However, I think the research should continue with more emphasis on the fact that we’re talking about a miniscule number of athletes here. And let’s not forget that they are human and don’t deserve the hate being spewed by the over-spoken few.

William
William
8 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Sex and Gender are not two vastly different things. A bench and dog are two vastly different things. Sex and gender are deeply interrelated to one another for the majority of human beings. Sex has a causal relationship to gender expression in 99% of the human population. The appearance of a small minority of individuals that do not exhibit this trait does not mean that this relationship does not exist . Trans activists have never presented evidence or studies that have proved otherwise . They just say it is so , and we have to accept this hypothesis without evidence ? Without that presupposition their whole ideology falls apart.

Tom
Tom
8 months ago
Reply to  William

thank you. Gender dysphoria does not entitle a tiny minority to co-opt the organization/rules to their own benefit. I have no problem having the trans women race with women, since they will get destroyed by a men’s field. But there has to be a different classification at the end of the race, and a separate prize list. And if they behave physically aggressively toward their “competitors” as Austin did in a cyclocross race, then put them in the men’s field. All that said, ask the women what they want, since it’s their race.

Dave
Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  William

You are correct that there is a relationship between the two and I’m not arguing that. And yes, a bench and a dog are VASTLY different, although some people might sit on both. My opinion differs from your opinion however and whether you like it or not, that’s OK. In an effort to articulate my point better than I did in my initial comment I present the explanation from ChatGPT below this comment for your consideration. We can argue about the relationship between sex and gender until we’re both blue in the face but the separation of men’s and women’s categories in sport has always been about biological sex, NOT gender. Is that the right way to go? Maybe, maybe not. I’m certainly not the one to determine that. 100 years ago this conversation wasn’t on anyone’s radar but thanks to continued progress, it is now part of the public conversation. And now that it is, we have a cultural responsibility to treat the impacted individuals on both sides with dignity and respect while determining a future path for sport. My personal take is that continuing to dilute sporting classes only reinforces the argument against transgender athletes. If we really want to see that in action we could simply have a race with just one class. Everybody against everybody. We already know who would win which is why we have classes based on biological sex in the first place. I believe we can acknowledge, support and respect the diverse cornucopia of gender identities while still recognizing the biological binary.

From ChatGPT:

Sex and gender are two distinct concepts that are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings and refer to different aspects of a person’s identity.
Sex:

  1. Sex is a biological concept that is typically assigned at birth based on physical characteristics such as reproductive organs, chromosomes, and hormones. The commonly recognized sexes are male and female. In most cases, individuals are assigned a sex at birth based on visible physical characteristics. However, it’s essential to note that not everyone’s sex falls neatly into the binary categories of male or female. Some individuals are born with intersex traits, which means they have variations in their sex characteristics that do not fit typical definitions of male or female.

Gender:

  1. Gender, on the other hand, is a social and cultural construct that encompasses the roles, behaviors, expectations, and identities that a society considers appropriate for individuals based on their perceived sex. Unlike sex, which is primarily biological, gender is influenced by cultural norms and can vary significantly across different societies and time periods.

Gender identity refers to an individual’s deeply-held sense of their own gender, whether they identify as male, female, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, or any other gender identity. It is important to recognize that gender identity may not necessarily align with an individual’s assigned sex at birth. For example, a person assigned female at birth might identify as male, or someone assigned male at birth might identify as non-binary.
In summary, sex primarily refers to biological characteristics, whereas gender encompasses the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of a person’s identity related to their perceived sex. Understanding the distinction between sex and gender is crucial in promoting inclusivity and recognizing the diversity of human experiences.

Willia
Willia
8 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Let’s make a statement about sex and gender.

I think what’s missing from this debate is that we’re conflating sex with gender and those are two vastly different things. The separation of male and female classes in sport is based on sex which is biological and not gender which is a social construct.”

Let’s make a statement that immediately contradicts the original supposition.

You are correct that there is a relationship between the two and I’m not arguing that”

Then let’s use ChatGPT (an unproven, but sophisticated flow tree algorithm that kind of imitates human intelligence ) as a reference to support your non-sensical assertion of sex and gender are two vastly different things, but somehow are related. I was waiting for references from Wiki. This type of work might fly in the humanities, but in any of the real sciences you would be laughed out the class.

Competition should be sex based. Men who transition after puberty ( even with lower Test levels )have an innate advantage against biological women. The number of studies are small, but eventually the body of evidence will catch up to what people feel is innately true and what we are anecdotally observing now, average male athletes , on the elite level, transitioning and then dominating women’s competition.

The solution is to offer a third open category or what the UCI has done by reclassifying the men’s category to Men’s/Open. I personally prefer the former to the latter.

Dave
Dave
8 months ago
Reply to  Willia

Let’s put this to bed like this. Here we are, two cis-gender men arguing over the internet about a UCI decision that doesn’t impact us in ANY way while commenting on a lived experience that NEITHER of us can relate to. That makes BOTH of us a$$holes. Welcome the trash heap my friend. You win the internet today, here’s your tiny trophy:

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Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
Bret
Bret
8 months ago

For now? No..forever. If you were born a man, you compete with the men. Period. Anyone who denies the biological differences even with surgeries and hormones is lying to themselves to support their agenda.

Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago
Reply to  Bret

Go read about the science before spouting your ignorance.

Tom
Tom
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

where is it written that accommodations for trans people include putting them in a competitive sports category where they are suddenly in the 90th+ percentile by height, weight, body composition, VO2 and strength? Do you care at all about women in sports? Or are their personal goals subsumed to societal goals?

Samuel Vrooman
Samuel Vrooman
8 months ago

Ah, another issue to divide us, anger us, and halt any progress we might make as a country. I don’t even have a side on this issue or a dog in this fight. It just makes me so damn sad. And the comments make it even worse.

Critgeek
Critgeek
8 months ago

I’m pretty sure this would’ve happened a long time ago if trans men were allowed to take enough testosterone that they were winning or getting on the podium in men’s categories r
(elite or amateur). Many male cyclists have been very vocal in their support of trans women competing with biological women, but they haven’t experienced what we have in unfair race conditions. There needs to be more studies for sure, but it will only prove what has been obvious for many of us on the front lines.

Tom
Tom
8 months ago
Reply to  Critgeek

why anybody listened to non-stakeholders in this fiasco is beyond me. If the trans people are proposed to race with the women, ask the women how they feel about it. If the organizers turn off the women bad enough, there’ll be no more racing, even for trans people.

jrobins
jrobins
8 months ago

I think so called “Mens” sports should be renamed to “Open” across the board, and open to anyone, including women. (There might be safety considerations in some sports, such as American football)

Mr. David Willett
Mr. David Willett
8 months ago

Does this also apply to Juniors? With the recent removal of them having a handicap by gear restriction rules, might we see “juniors” winning World Tour races? If it applies, I expect we will see that.

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