British Cycling’s recently appointed CEO Jon Dutton has said that “fairness” was the key driving factor in the national governing body’s new transgender participation policy released yesterday.
As part of the new policy, transgender women are to be banned from riding in competitive women’s races. This comes as part of two new policies designed to cover the participation of transgender and non-binary people in competitive and non-competitive events.
The previous testosterone-based policy was suspended by BC in April last year pending a full review, following fears trans rider Emily Bridges would have an advantage competing at the National Omnium Championships.
Ahead of the new guidelines being published, Dutton explained that the governing body had needed to strike a balance between equality, diversity and inclusion as well as fairness of competition.
“On the competitive policy, fairness is absolutely the driving factor,” Dutton said. “On the non-competitive policy inclusivity is absolutely the driving factor and key principle.”
Under the new competitive policy - which has taken nine months to develop after a consultation and review process - events will no longer have male and female categories. Instead there will be a female and an “open” category.
According to British Cycling, the female category will be for athletes whose sex was assigned female at birth. Transgender men who are yet to begin hormone therapy will also be eligible to compete in the category.
Regarding potential legal challenges to the new competitive policy, Dutton said that BC could not “predict the future” or what may develop in the coming weeks.
“We’ve taken due care, time and attention to ensure that we have legal advice and that we’re aligned to UK law,” he added. “We can’t predict what’s going to happen but today is about leadership and giving that absolute clarity and direction to remove the uncertainty, however difficult that may be, and we absolutely have empathy and compassion with those impacted.”
Bridges is one of the main riders to be impacted by the ruling. She took to social media to voice her anger at the new policy, which she labelled “a violent act”.
Dutton reiterated that British Cycling accepted the new competitive policy would come as a big blow to those affected and that the delay in reaching the new guidelines has generated anguish for some.
“We accept that and we understand that. That’s why we need to continue to support those affected. I am sorry it has taken so long to get to this point and for some of the upset and anxiety that people have had to go through… I accept that this is a difficult moment for a number of people directly affected.”
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