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Transgender Ban

Breaking BBC news has just reported that British Cycling is to ban transgender women from competing in the female category.

British Cycling's Jon Dutton (left) 'confident' new policies safeguard fairness.

British Cycling is to ban transgender women from the female category of its competitions following a nine-month review and consultation.

Under a new participation policy that the governing body said was "predicated on fairness", such athletes will compete in an 'open category' with men.

The female category will be "for those whose sex was assigned female at birth".

The changes will prevent rider Emily Bridges (see picture below), the country's highest-profile transgender cyclist from potentially being part of the British women's team.

Last year she was stopped from competing in her first elite women's race by the UCI cycling's world federation, despite meeting the rules at the time.

British Cycling's policy had allowed transgender women to take part in elite female events if they met testosterone-based regulations.

But with the governing body at the heart of the debate over balancing inclusion with fairness, its regulations were suspended amid mounting controversy about Bridges and a review was launched.

"Research studies indicate that even with the suppression of testosterone, transgender women who transition post-puberty retain a performance advantage," said British Cycling.

"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.

"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."

Transgender women will be able to participate in non-competitive recreational and community cycling without restriction.

The new policies will be implemented by the end of the year.

Emily Bridges previously set a national junior men's record over 25 miles and was selected to join British Cycling's senior academy in 2019.

Having been a highly promising competitor in junior men's events, Bridges came out as transgender in 2020, starting hormone therapy as part of her gender dysphoria treatment.

She then became eligible to compete in elite women's events under British Cycling's transgender regulations, which required riders to have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to competition.

But days before the 2022 National Omnium Championships, the UCI said Bridges' participation could only be allowed once her eligibility to race in international competitions was confirmed, dashing her hopes of competing for Wales in the Commonwealth Games.

A group of elite female cyclists called on the UCI to "rescind" its rules around transgender participation, claiming female athletes in the UK were "willing to boycott" events over their "concerns about fairness in their sport".

Bridges said she felt "harassed and demonised" and had "little clarity" on her eligibility. She added that she "does not have any advantage" over her competitors, and could prove it with data.

While British Cycling suspended its rules, the UCI then toughened its regulations, doubling the qualification period to two years and lowering the required testosterone threshold for transgender women riders to 2.5nmol/L.

But this month, after Austin Killips became the first transgender woman to win a UCI women's stage race at the Tour of the Gila, the world governing body re-opened consultation on the issue, saying it "hears the voices of female athletes and their concerns about an equal playing field for competitors".

Have a great day!

Prof. Carl Boniface

Vocabulary builder:

Amid (prep) = among, amongst, within, in, amidst, during, in the middle of

Gender dysphoria = Gender dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. This sense of unease or dissatisfaction may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.

Boycott (v) = refuse, embargo, shun, proscribe, prohibit, reject, stay away from, impose sanctions

Threshold (n) = verge, edge, dawn, beginning, onset, inception, starting point, (ant) end

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