British trans women banned from female category cycling competitions

The decision has swiftly sparked controversy, ITV News sports editor Steve Scott reports

Trans women will be banned from elite female-only cycling competitions and will instead be allowed to compete in the men's group, the sport's UK governing body has announced.

British Cycling had suspended its Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy in April 2022, effectively banning trans women from taking part in competitions.

On Friday it confirmed the policy was being made permanent.

British Cycling organised events will now be sectioned into two groups.The men's group will become an 'open' group, which will be welcome to transgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals and those whose sex was assigned male at birth.

The other group will be just for women, with British Cycling saying the only people who can compete will be "those whose sex was assigned female at birth and transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy."

ITV News sports editor Steve Scott asks British Cycling chief Jon Dutton what he would say to people who view the new policy as discriminatory

People who qualify for the women's group may also compete in the open category.

British Cycling initially suspended its policy in 2022 after the world cycling governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), banned Welsh competitor Emily Bridges from taking part in a race at the last minute.

The event threw Ms Bridges into the national spotlight after she spoke about the distress being excluded at the last minute caused.

The men's category will be renamed as the open category. Credit: PA

On Friday, Ms Bridges criticised the decision saying "British Cycling is a failed organisation."

She said: "I agree that there needs to be a nuanced policy discussion and continue to conduct research, but this hasn't happened."

She said the research was not being viewed critically and any discussion is fuelled by "bad faith actors."

British Cycling chief Jon Dutton tells ITV News the issue is 'complex'

Ms Bridges added she was considering quitting cycling and leaving the UK.

British Cycling CEO, Jon Dutton, said: "We understand that this will be particularly difficult for many of our trans and non-binary riders."

Mr Dutton said his organisation would review the policy annually, taking into account new developments in medical science.

He added: “We have always been very clear that this is a challenge far greater than one sport.

Trans cyclist Emily Bridges was banned from competing in women's events last year. Credit: ITV News

"We remain committed to listening to our communities and working with our fellow sporting bodies to monitor changes in the scientific and policy landscape, to ensure that sport is inclusive for all."

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Dutton added: "The competitive policy is predicated on the basis of fairness, and that's been the overriding determining factor in getting to this point - the non-competitive policy.

"And it's important for us to have to recognise this inclusivity and welcoming all athletes. So, we have taken all of that. The research, the consultation, listening, and it has taken some time to get to this point, and that shows the complexity of the subject matter."

Sporting bodies around the world have been grappling with whether they should allow trans women to compete in their female competitions.

In March, World Athletics joined a number of other organisations in banning trans women from competing in female international athletics events.Last year, governing organisations for swimming and rugby league voted to ban athletes who have gone through male puberty from racing in women’s events.British Cycling noted these rules only apply to their competitive events and said trans people can "continue to participate" in a range of other activities "in line with their gender identities."

In a statement, British Cycling said it was sorry for the uncertainty the for the delay in clarifying its stance.

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They added: "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.

"This aim has not changed: it has been central to our review and we remain committed to this vital work."