World cycling governing body bans trans women from competing in female category

The new policy comes despite evidence that trans women have no athletic advantage over their cisgender counterparts.

Three women compete in cycling race, UCI banned trans women from competing.
Image: Twitter @UCI_MTB

On Friday, July 14, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body for world cycling, banned trans women from competing in female events. The new policy comes into effect today, Monday, July 17, meaning that trans women will not be able to compete in the August UCI World Championships in Glasgow.

In the statement, UCI said: “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.”

The decision was made during a UCI meeting on July 5. The association claims that gender-affirming hormone therapies do not sufficiently eliminate the benefits of testosterone during male puberty and said: “It was necessary to take this measure to protect the female class and ensure equal opportunities”.

UCI President David Lappartient insisted that cycling is a welcoming sport, sharing: “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.”

The organisation said that athletes who do not meet the UCI’s new conditions for participation in women’s events may compete in the men’s category, which will be renamed “Men/Open”.


In May, British Cycling introduced a similar policy disqualifying trans women from competing. Additional bans have happened in women’s swimming, track and rugby.

Sporting leagues continue to claim that athletes who have undergone male puberty carry certain advantages like increased lung size and bone density, but scientific literature finds no evidence to suggest that these factors create an advantage.

Trans allies within the cycling community have expressed their heartache and frustration over the decision.

American athlete and trans-advocate Molly Cameron said: “We are going to hear a lot of: ‘sorry but this is what we have to do to protect fairness’ …That is unacceptable and this is deeply problematic policy. We’ve spent decades working together on building inclusive and welcoming races and events…”



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Haley Smith, a Canadian Olympian and Life Time Grand Prix contestant said: “I don’t agree with the UCI’s decision to ban trans women from competing in the women’s category. I know this is a complicated topic for many…but I keep returning to what I believe to be the purpose of sport: to offer opportunities for enjoyment, self-betterment, personal challenge, camaraderie (etc.) for all”.

The Dropettes, a trans-inclusive racing and social cycling team, expressed their opposition to the policy and called for trans-inclusion. As USA Cycling is expected to follow suit, the Dropettes are cancelling their USAC licenses and encouraging other teams to do the same.

In a statement, the team challenged local race directors to: “…explore ways to hold their events without the sanction of USAC, and commit they will now, and in the future, not only allow, but welcome and encourage trans athletes to compete in all categories. To the trans folks in our community, we want you here, we want to ride with you, and we want to race with you.”



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