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In sharp reversal, cycling’s world governing body prohibits biological males from competing in women’s events


“…the current state of scientific knowledge does not guarantee such equality of opportunity between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants, it was not possible, as a precautionary measure, to authorise the former to race in the female categories.”


L’Union Cycliste Internationale (the UCI), the international governing body for cycling competition, has barred any biological male athlete who has gone through puberty from competing in women’s races, a decision that came following the outcry that occurred when a male athlete won a women’s competition earlier this year.

Quick Facts

The UCI announced the rule change on July 14. “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 UCI’s press release said.

The men’s category will be renamed men/open and all transgender athletes will be able to compete in that category. The UCI claimed evidence does not show that taking hormone therapy or testosterone suppressants can eliminate the unfair physical advantages that post-pubescent biological males have over women.

“Taking these findings into account, the UCI Management Committee considered the interests of transgender athletes in being able to take part in sporting competitions against those of athletes in the female category, which is considered a protected class,” the UCI said. “In this context, the UCI Management Committee concluded, considering the remaining scientific uncertainties, that it was necessary to take this measure to protect the female class and ensure equal opportunities.”

The rule goes into effect on July 17.

David Lappartient, president of the UCI, issued a statement saying that cycling is open to everyone and that the UCI “fully respects and supports the right of individuals to choose the sex that corresponds to their gender identity, whatever sex they were assigned at birth.”

Despite this, the governing body “has a duty to guarantee, above all, equal opportunities for all competitors in cycling competitions. It is this imperative that led the UCI to conclude that, given the current state of scientific knowledge does not guarantee such equality of opportunity between transgender female athletes and cisgender female participants, it was not possible, as a precautionary measure, to authorise the former to race in the female categories.”

Last year the UCI updated its rules to require that athletes competing in the women’s division must have serum testosterone levels below 2.5 nanomoles per liter or less for at least 24 months.

The decision comes after biologically male cyclist Austin Killips won a UCI stage race in the Tour of the Gila. While Killips was the first biological male athlete to win a UCI race, he is not the only male to win a women’s cycling competition. Earlier this year Lesley Mumford, a biological male who transitioned in 2017, was the only person on the podium after his victory in the 40-49 age group. Mumford defeated second place finisher Lindsey Kriete by 17 minutes.

One South Korean transgender cyclist won a women’s race last month in order to actually prove that transgender athletes should be prohibited from competing against women.

Na Hwa-rin underwent gender reassignment surgery last year and is recognized as a woman in South Korea. Na competed and won at the Gangwon Sports festival, a provincial competition in Gangwon Province.

Na said after winning, “I have no unresolved feelings over winning because that’s no longer what I want. My goal was to stir controversy and get my story heard by competing.”

After the race Na said he felt “more relieved than triumphant” because he had made his point on the physical advantages biologically male athletes have. Na said he felt bad for the female athletes and called out transgender athletes who take victories in international competitions.

“I am not honored. I am not proud of myself at all. I believe other transgender athletes would feel the same way. They may not want to admit it, but they’re being selfish. There is no honor as an athlete in that,” Na stated.

Na qualified for the National Sports Festival but declined citing the fairness issue. “I don’t want to make an issue to the point where I harm other people,” Na said, adding that he made his point in a provincial rather than a professional race so he did not damage female athletes’ careers.

This decision by the UCI partially admits the reality that everyone has always known to be true: men have a biological advantage over women and taking hormone suppressants or cross-sex hormones will not eliminate that advantage. The differences in men and women go far beyond testosterone levels.

While the UCI’s and Na’s actions are noble, they sadly fail to recognize the reality that just like the advantages males have in athletics cannot be erased, neither can a person’s sexuality. They are either male or female. The UCI referred to “female transgender” cyclists; athletes who are male can never be female, and to pretend that they can be risks destroying the recognition and safety of women, not just in sports but in all areas of society.

Sex is immutable and it is binary; sex cannot be changed and it is not a spectrum. No matter how many times transgender activists try to manipulate the masses to believe their lie, it is just that, a lie.

The Bible and biology tell us very clearly that men and women are different, that those differences are wonderful, and together men and women complement each other. Each reflects aspects of the character of God and each aids the other in their weaknesses. Saying otherwise is a lie and harms everyone.

Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.

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