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Cyclists weigh in on UCI’s new policy to ban transgender athletes from women’s category

Alison Sydor, Austin Killips, Haley Smith and Veronica Ivy’s reactions

Womens Tour of the Gila

On Friday, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of cycling, introduced a new policy prohibiting transgender women who have experienced male puberty from competing in the female category of competitive events. Simultaneously, the organization decided to rename the men’s category as men/open. Athletes who do not meet the requirements for participation in the female category will now have the option to take part in men/open events without any restrictions.

According to the statement 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.”

Haley Smith

There were a variety of reactions from those in the cycling community. Olympian Haley Smith said she didn’t agree with the decision.

“I know this is a complicated topic for many, yes, professional racing complicates this for sure, but I keep returning to what I believe to be the purpose of sport: to offer opportunities for enjoyment, self-betterment, personal challenge, camaraderie for all. Maybe you believe that trans women racing against those assigned female at birth is unfair or wrong,” she posted on Instagram. “But I truly believe that a ban is much more wrong. I don’t have an answer, but I know in my gut that this isn’t the right decision. I’m off to go race my bike in a UCI race right now because this is what I do. But it certainly feels a bit heavier tonight.”

Alison Sydor

Alison Sydor, former world champion and Olympian, welcomed the new policy. The British Columbian has been outspoken on the matter for some time now on Twitter, and said that she is pleased with the UCI news.

“I’d argue that allowing any M a F race licence from the start was a drastic move,” she tweeted. “The UCI having ignored the issues female athletes have presented regarding fairness for over 20 years finally being rectified should have pleased anyone with knowledge about sport.”

Sydor also tweeted that she did not consider the new policy to be a “change.” “Is change truly the right word here? For what we are witnessing, in essence, is a correction,” she posted. “The UCI and IOC deserve all the criticism levelled. There will be no apologies or admissions they were wrong, correction took 20 years left so many impacted.”

Veronica Ivy

Former world masters champion, Veronica Ivy, was far from pleased with the change. The Canadian track cyclist posted a photo of their track bike adorned in a paint job that used the colours of the transgender flag: light blue, light pink and white.

“I hope the UCI is ready for the smoke that’s coming on the heels of Bigoted Bigard’s new trans ban. It’s time to race. Just try and stop me,” the caption read. This isn’t makeup motherfuckers, it’s WAR PAINT.”

Austin Killips

Gravel racer Austin Killips, who was the first transgender cyclist to win a women’s UCI race in May at the Tour of the Gila, also posted about her disappointment with the ruling.

“I am devastated by the UCI’s decision to renege on the policy and framework they previously set out for inclusion. My journey in professional racing has allowed me to see the world, build lifelong friendships, and most importantly give my absolute all to something I find deeply fulfilling,” Killips, who transitioned in 2019, posted on Instagram. “No one should be denied the opportunity to chase the same joy that I and others have found through racing.”

The revised rules are now in effect as of July 17.