In October 2020, British Cycling published new guidance on transgender and non-binary participation in sport cycling which aims to encourage trans and non-binary participation at all-levels.
Bike for Good welcomes this news and wants to support more trans people to participate in cycling.
In order to unpack some of the barriers to trans participation in the sport, we wanted to tell the stories of three trans sport cyclists:
In October 2018, Veronica Ivy (formerly known as Rachel McKinnon) became the first transwoman to win a cycling world title, at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles. However, her achievement was met with some criticism regarding her right to compete in women’s sport. Veronica argues sport is a human right and that it acts as a proxy for all trans inclusion in society.
Philippa York, who is considered to be one of the most successful British cyclists of all time, transitioned after retiring in 1995. She felt that in order to be a professional athlete, she had to bury her trans-identity. So despite realising she was trans in 1986, she didn’t seek support to medically transition until 1999, and didn’t come out publicly until 2017; 14 years after she’d fully transitioned. Her experience gives an insight into how societal attitudes to trans-people can impact their participation in sport.
Philippa wants LGBTQ+ people to be able to access sport without feeling intimidated or threatened, or like they’re unwelcome there.
Emily Bridges is a 19-year-old British cyclist who was on the path to the Olympics. In a recent interview with Sky Sports she reflected on her experience. Emily began to identify as trans in October 2019. This led her to question whether she would be able to continue to cycle competitively. Emily said lockdown gave her some time to be herself, she could focus on training and got her best results yet. Before returning to onsite training at the Manchester velodrome in June, Emily began to come out as trans to a few people at home and was blown away by their support.
However, in mid-August, she was told she no longer had the potential required to remain on the Great Britain Cycling Team.
Emily quickly made new plans for her career and applied to University. Since leaving the cycling programme she’s come out to family and friends and new people she’s met at Uni. On National Coming Out Day in October, Emily decided to come out to the sport cycling community.
Emily wants cycling to be more representative of the wider population, including more people from BAME backgrounds, more women, disabled people and LGBTQ+ people.
She thinks people shouldn’t have to choose between being themselves and doing the sport they love. So, in order to influence attitudes to trans people in sport, Emily has agreed to take part in some research into the effect that a medical transition has on athletic performance and hopes that this will provide evidence to corroborate eligibility rules for trans athletes in competition.
Bike for Good support trans and non-binary people’s involvement in cycling and used to offer learn-to-ride sessions and gentle confidence building rides for women and all non-binary people every Thursday before the national lockdown. We also run a Spokes not Blokes bike maintenance group on the 1st Tuesday of every month from 5pm. These sessions are currently on hold and will resume, subject to government guidance.
British Cycling’s new guidance regarding trans and non-binary participation in sport cycling includes use of correct names and pronouns, accepting people’s gender identity without demanding verification, and encouraging trans and non-binary members to use the gendered changing facilities of their choice. These are just some of the ways in which cycling organisations can welcome trans people.
Glasgow will host the UCI World Championships in August 2023, let’s make it the most trans-inclusive event yet!
LEAP Sports Scotland work for greater inclusion for LGBTI people in sport. They welcome new members to their LGBTI youth in sport taskforce. They’ve also recently produced a guide to non-binary participation in sport.
Equality Network have recently produced a sports charter with 5 principles for those delivering sport in Scotland to sign-up to, Scottish Cycling and Triathlon Scotland are signatories.