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Tipsheet

Cycling Governing Body Defends Trans Athlete Policy After Man Wins Women’s Race

AP Photo/Armando Franca

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body for cycling, defended Austin Killips, a male-bodied transgender athlete, who took home the overall win in the women’s category at the Tour of the Gila race in New Mexico this week. 

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In a statement, UCI defended its policy on transgender athletes competing in female events. 

“The UCI acknowledges that transgender athletes may wish to compete in accordance with their gender identity,” the statement said, according to NBC News. “The UCI rules are based on the latest scientific knowledge and have been applied in a consistent manner. The UCI continues to follow the evolution of scientific findings and may change its rules in the future as scientific knowledge evolves.”

The parameters for male-bodied athletes to compete in women’s events includes the maximum permitted plasma testosterone level to 2.5 nanomoles per liter and extending the transition period to 24 months.

Killips, 27-year-old a biological male, began racing in 2019, which Townhall covered. He reportedly began hormone replacement therapy the same year. He may now move on to a spot at the Tour de France or the Paris Olympics. 

Inga Thompson, a three-time U.S. Olympian and five-time national road race champion told The Telegraph that “Austin is cycling’s equivalent of Lia Thomas.”

"This really highlights the issues that are happening to women in cycling," Thompson said. "We have more than 50 transgender women in the sport. And what's going on in the background is that women are just quietly walking away. They think, 'Why bother, if it's not fair?'"

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In March, Townhall reported how a male-bodied “transgender” athlete won a women’s event in New York City. The athlete, Tiffany Thomas, wrote on Instagram that “my two best friends are just as strong as me, I just happened to have a better day on that particular day. They will assuredly beat me at future races.”

And,  Hannah Arensman, a 35-time winner on the national cyclocross circuit, said in an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court that she retired from her sport when she finished in fourth place between two male-bodied “transgender” athletes at a competition (via the Supreme Court of the United States):

I have decided to end my cycling career. At my last race at the recent UCI Cyclocross National Championships in the elite women’s category in December 2022, I came in 4th place, flanked on either side by male riders awarded 3rd and 5th places. My sister and family sobbed as they watched a man finish in front of me, having witnessed several physical interactions with him throughout the race. 

Additionally, it is difficult for me to think about the very real possibility I was overlooked for an international selection on the US team at Cyclocross Worlds in February 2023 because of a male competitor. 

Moving forward, I feel for young girls learning to compete and who are growing up in a day when they no longer have a fair chance at being the new record 20 holders and champions in cycling because men want to compete in our division. I have felt deeply angered, disappointed, overlooked, and humiliated that the rule makers of women’s sports do not feel it is necessary to protect women’s sports to ensure fair competition for women anymore.

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Earlier this year, world-renowned surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and went on to win national competitions, came out against a new policy by the World Surf League that would allow male athletes who identify as transgender to compete in the women’s category. The policy was similar to UCI’s, where transgender athletes could compete based on their levels of testosterone. 

As Townhall reported, Hamilton posted an Instagram video slamming the policy. 

“This concerns me as a professional athlete that has been competing in the World Surf League events for the past 15+ years, and I feel that I must speak up and stand up for those in position that may feel that they cannot say something about this,” she said. “I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains.”

“Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction of that someone indeed is a male or female?...How did whoever decided these hormone rules come to the conclusion that 12 months of testing testosterone make it a fair and legal switch?” she added. 

“I personally think that the best solution would be to create a different division so that all can have a fair opportunity to showcase their passion and talent,” she concluded. “We are seeing glimpses of male-bodied dominance in women’s sports like running, swimming, and others.”

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