In a move to ensure fair competition in women’s sports, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for sports cycling, announced that transgender female athletes who transitioned after male puberty will no longer be allowed to participate in women's events in all categories of cycling. The UCI’s decision comes after other Olympic sports such as athletics and swimming imposed similar rulings. The decision was reached after a seminar on the conditions for the participation of transgender athletes in women's cycling events was held, where various stakeholders, including transgender and cisgender athletes, legal and human rights experts, and sporting institutions, presented their positions.
The UCI’s decision to ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s cycling events follows the victory of American transgender cyclist Austin Killips in a UCI women’s event in May. Killips, who adhered to the UCI’s policy of having serum testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per liter or less for at least 24 months before competing in women’s events, became the first openly transgender woman to win an official cycling event. However, Killips’ victory provoked a negative reaction from some cycling fans and former racers, highlighting the need for the UCI to review its policy.
The UCI’s ban, which comes into force on July 17, prohibits female transgender athletes who have transitioned after male puberty from participating in women's events on the UCI international calendar, in all categories, and in various disciplines. The UCI’s decision is necessary to ensure equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions. The UCI’s men’s category will be renamed “Men/Open” at international Masters events, and any athlete who does not meet the conditions for participation in women’s events will be admitted without restriction.
The UCI’s decision is based on the current state of scientific knowledge, which does not guarantee equal opportunities between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants. According to the UCI, the state of scientific knowledge 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. Additionally, the UCI noted the difficulty in drawing precise conclusions about the effects of gender-confirming hormone therapy.
The UCI’s decision is also based on 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. Therefore, the UCI concluded that it was necessary to take this measure to protect the female class and ensure equal opportunities.
The UCI fully respects and supports the right of individuals to choose the sex that corresponds to their gender identity, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth. However, the UCI has a duty to guarantee, above all, equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions. The UCI’s decision to ban transgender athletes from women’s events is a precautionary measure to ensure that transgender female athletes who have transitioned after male puberty do not have an unfair advantage over cisgender female participants.
The UCI reaffirms that cycling is open to everyone, including transgender people, whom they encourage, like everyone else, to take part in their sport. The UCI also recognizes the need to balance the rights of transgender athletes with the need to ensure fair competition in women’s sports.
The UCI’s ban on transgender athletes from women’s events has sparked debate and controversy. Some argue that the ban is discriminatory and erases the rights of transgender athletes to compete in the gender category that corresponds to their gender identity. Others argue that the ban is necessary to ensure fair competition in women’s sports and protect the rights of cisgender female athletes.
The ban on transgender athletes from women’s events also has implications for the inclusion of transgender athletes in other sports. As more sports organizations review their policies on transgender athletes, the UCI’s decision could set a precedent for other sports to follow.