UCI Bars Some Trans-Identifying Males From Women’s Cycling Races

Starting from Monday, some biological men who identify as women will not be allowed to participate in women’s cycling races, according to a new policy by the Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body for sports cycling.

This new policy marks a significant shift from UCI’s previous stance, which permitted men with a plasma testosterone level below 2.5 nanomoles per liter for two years to compete in women’s sports. Now, the organization says it has found a way for trans athletes to continue participating in the sport without ruining the integrity of women’s cycling.

The decision to ban trans-identifying males takes into account the scientific understanding and aims to maintain fairness in the sport, according to UCI President David Lappartient. 

“Given the current state of scientific knowledge, which does not guarantee such equality of opportunity between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants, it was not possible … to authorize the former to race in the female categories,” he stated.

To make way for the new policy, UCI renamed the men’s category to “Men’s/Open.” Now, trans-identifying males who underwent puberty will have to compete in the newly named category with their fellow male players. This applies to any male who underwent puberty, regardless of the duration of hormone therapy or their testosterone levels. 

“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 organization announced.

According to UCI, the new policy came off of the current “state of scientific knowledge. Hence, it hints at the potential for future policy changes “as scientific knowledge evolves.” In the meantime, the sports body says it will be putting its money into the research of the effects of cross-gender hormones on the performance of trans athletes. 

The policy change comes after UCI has faced criticism for its existing transgender policy which practically opened the door to male domination of women’s sports. 

There have been complaints that the organization’s policy that allows trans-identifying males to play in women’s sports effectively undermines women’s cycling as transgender female Austin Killips continuously won several women’s competitions, including the one in which he beat Paige Onweller by a wide gap in a North Carolina game last month.

The new policy now comes at a time when other sports organizations, including World Athletics and the International Swimming Federation, have also imposed stringent limits on trans-identifying men participating in women’s categories.