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Our Statement to British Cycling on their policy changes affecting our athletes

This statement has been written on behalf of Islington Cycle Club, Klatsch Cycling Team,

London Velo Cycle Club, Peckham Cycle Club, Track Nation, and Velociposse by women in

our clubs, many of whom frequently race and compete.


We are responding to recent policy changes on transgender and non-binary rider

participation from British Cycling (BC) and Cycling Time Trials (CTT). We reject these

policies as being in any way representative of the views of our women's racing community.

Further, we believe these policies are harmful to those in the cycling community, dangerous

in a wider societal context and will damage grass roots racing and participation.


We, and many people in our wider cycling community, engaged with the British Cycling

policy consultation in good faith but none of the points we raised are addressed in the

published policy. This statement aims to make our position clear and demonstrate our

support for trans and non-binary people in the cycling community.


We believe these policies are wrong for multiple reasons:


Cycling should be inclusive and participation should be expanded


We believe that cycling should be fun and inclusive. The future of our sport depends on

greater diversity and the widening of participation. Everyone has the right to participate in a

sport they love, to feel proud of what they can achieve within competition and to enjoy the

community that grows from participation.

Rather than creating policy and activities that encourage as many people to cycle and race

as possible, BC and CTT have chosen to further marginalise and effectively exclude

transgender and non-binary people from safe and inclusive racing at their events.


These policies contribute to the violence against marginalised communities


The question of inclusion of trans people in cycling is not a theoretical debate or an issue

that affects just a few individuals. These policies have real and serious consequences

for real people that go beyond their exclusion from a local crit league. These policies

feed into a wider movement in our society to enact violence against trans and non-binary

people; over the past year there has been a 41% increase in reported hate crimes against

LGB people, and a 56% increase in reported hate crimes against trans people. Policies such

as those implemented by BC and CTT reinforce a growing rhetoric of exclusion, difference,

and hatred that affects our friends, our families, and us.


These policies cannot be ethically implemented


It is not possible to enact these policies in a way that preserves the dignity of all participants

and the privacy of individuals. Discrimination is guaranteed in the way British Cycling and

Cycling Time Trials propose to police these policies and many people (both trans and cis)

will be harmed by this process.


These policies require race organisers and volunteers to report anyone suspected of racing

in the “wrong” category. Anyone who does not fit into a heteronormative gender expression

(or their opponent's idea of it) will be affected by this. Any woman, trans or not, may need to

“prove” that they are a woman, on the basis of a single comment. This could arise from a

racer being stronger than the field, from a racer having a muscular body type, choosing to

race in the “open” category to gain race experience or through having facial hair - anything

that marks them out as “not feminine enough.”


The British Cycling Compliance team and the Cycling Time Trials Gender tribunal will then

decide whether the individual meets their expectations of gender. These processes are

demeaning to individuals who must go through them, disproportionate to the issue of

someone racing at grass roots level, and based on flimsy evidence.


CTT have included in their policy the requirement that anyone competing in the female

category must fulfil three criteria:

1. they must have been assigned the sex female at birth;

2. they must never have gone through any part of male puberty; and,

3. they must not have had a testosterone result in serum above 2.5 nmol/L level before

competing even if they satisfy the other two requirements.


The second and third rules will affect women who have endocrine and chromosomal

differences. Between 5-10% of cis women have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can

increase testosterone levels above 2.4 nmol/L amongst other symptoms. The policy enacted

by CTT would exclude these cis women from racing with other women, and instead require

them to race against cis men. Should they be denied the ability to race with their friends

because of a medical condition?


Any policy that requires women (trans and cis) to test their endogenous testosterone levels

in order to race is deeply concerning. We have seen similar policies have particular impacts

on non-white athletes (1)

, and we note that much of the medical research in this field is based

on western populations. There is no scientific consensus linking endogenous testosterone

and sports performance

(2) so a policy based solely on testosterone levels is both scientifically

questionable and philosophically flawed; the essentialist definition of a woman as “someone

who has blood testosterone below 2.4 nmol/L” is obviously flawed.


An ‘Open’ category is not inclusive


Both British Cycling and Cycling Time Trials have created an ‘Open’ category with the claim

that this is an inclusive approach. We disagree. This approach places trans women, trans

men, women with non-standard hormonal profiles, non-binary people and cis men in one

category, and all other women in a separate category.


Whilst trans women are considered to have an advantage for having gone through a

testosterone driven puberty, trans men are not provided with a reciprocal adaptation.

Menopausal riders are not given any consideration. Cis-men with low testosterone are not

given any consideration. Other elements of advantage (biological, technological or

sociological) are not given any consideration. This policy does not make cycling “fair” but

does exclude trans women from a social category of “women.”


We note a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport disputes the idea that

trans women have an unfair advantage over cis-women

(3) and there are further studies that

explore how a trans-inclusive policy can be fully aligned with fair competition.

(4)


These policies will damage grass roots racing and the cycling community


When this policy is implemented, race organisers will have to consider whether they are

willing to act as “gender police” by running a women's event. We know that some organisers

are already reluctant to run womens races because they struggle to get enough participants.

This adds yet another barrier to the development of a thriving women's race scene.


Women who race now will be excluded from events they have participated in for years. Even

with the encouragement and support from fellow racers, the political and social atmosphere

that has led to the creation and implementation of such policies says ‘you are not welcome

here’. Community racing venues that organise regional and grassroots racing now have to

spend time and energy working out how they can continue to act as the inclusive community

hubs when they are subject to this exclusive and non-community focused policy.


These policies do not reflect grass roots racing and the cycling community


We understand that this is a complex issue for sporting bodies, and that there are many

aspects to consider. We took part in British Cycling consultation and we shared how grass

roots and local racing scenes need to be supported, and to be fully inclusive, even where

elite level sport may necessitate different rules. CTT did not, to our knowledge, hold a

consultation.


Following our conversation with British Cycling, we were surprised at the competitive /

non-competitive dividing line that has been drawn.


We recognise that at an elite level, there

are international regulations to align with. When competition is someone’s career, there are

different nuances to consider. However, at grass roots level, cycling and racing are activities

we do for fun with our friends (and rivals!). We have all raced in fields with a large disparity in ability, or at events where self selection into “A, B or C” categories is practised. We do not

believe this policy is necessary for, or enhances in any way, fairness at this level.


We engaged in the consultation but British Cycling did not listen


We have actively tried to engage with British Cycling about diversity and inclusion and about

trans and non-binary inclusion; taking part in the consultation, sharing our experiences,

views and expertise, giving time and emotional energy along the way. The points we raised

were not mentioned in the final policy.


Throughout the review and consultation period for the British Cycling policy we expressed

our concern about the lack of transparency and the lack of a deadline for the review. British

Cycling did not follow-through on invitations for participation in panel discussions for the

consultation, they did not publish the findings from these sessions, nor the level of

attendance, the reasons for selection to the consultation, or statistics around the composition

of those in attendance. They have continuously evaded us and many others, hiding their

process and failing in their communication with members.


These policies are putting clubs and individuals between a rock and a hard place


These new policies are affecting both individuals, clubs, and teams and we are now all

having to consider what we do if these policies impact us directly, and what we can do as

allies to the trans and non-binary members of our communities. We hear from our members

that they do not want to be members of British Cycling, or part of a club that is affiliated with

British Cycling. We do, however, all have members (including trans and non-binary

members) who want to take part in racing and want to represent their club, leaving us in a

difficult position. How do we stand by the trans and non-binary members of the cycling

community while also supporting our members to race and enjoy the sport they love? This

brings us back to our opening point - cycling governing bodies should be doing all they can

to encourage participation in racing, and instead they are actively discouraging people from

racing and putting clubs and allies in an intolerable position.


Inclusive and competitive cycling racing is possible


We know that inclusive and competitive cycling is possible. Trans people are a part of our

racing community and they have been for years - welcomed and included. Moreover, we

have experienced and witnessed progressive and inclusive racing events that challenge the

traditional categorisation based on the constructed gender binary. The North London

Thundercats and Fixed Beers have put on numerous events that showcase this - allowing

participants to self-select the category that is most appropriate for them, sometimes

including a qualification round to support individual placements. We believe that this is the

future of community racing - events where people are recognised, respected and included as

they are - and we will do what we can as cycling clubs to support this inclusive future of

cycling.


We hope to show all those in the cycling community that we disagree with

exclusionary politics, and instead hope to build a stronger, more inclusive and fair racing community.




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