Picture Credit:Twitter

Picture Credit:Twitter

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body of cycling, has announced a new policy that will come into effect from Monday, July 17. The new rule will see a ban on transgender women who have transitioned after male puberty from competing in women's events in its calendar. As per the old policy, transgender women could compete with a maximum permitted plasma testosterone level of 2.5 nanomoles per liter.

The UCI said that the decision was based on the current state of scientific knowledge, which does not confirm that hormone therapy can completely eliminate the advantages of testosterone during male puberty. The UCI claimed that the policy was necessary to protect the female class and ensure equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions. The policy will apply to all categories and disciplines of the UCI international calendar, including the World Championships and World Cups.

The statement read, "Given the current state of scientific knowledge, it is also impossible to rule out the possibility that biomechanical factors such as the shape and arrangement of the bones in their limbs may constitute a lasting advantage for female transgender athletes."

However, UCI also said that it respects and supports the right of individuals to choose their gender identity and that cycling is open to everyone, including transgender people. The men's category has been renamed as men/open and will allow any athlete who does not meet the conditions for participation in women's events to compete in this category without restriction.

The UCI also acknowledged that the rules may change in the future as scientific knowledge evolves and that it will continue to monitor the situation and consult with experts and stakeholders.

The policy has been met with criticism from some transgender athletes and advocates, who argue that it is discriminatory and based on flawed assumptions. One of the transgender athletes who spoke out was British cyclist Emily Bridges who posted a statement on her Instagram protesting the decision. 

Another affected athlete is Austin Killips, a female American transgender cyclist who won a UCI women's event in May 2023. Last June, the World Aquatics Federation voted to prohibit transgender women from the elite competition if they had gone through any stage of male puberty after a scientific panel discovered that transgender women had a considerable advantage even after lowering their testosterone levels using medication.