Belgian Waffle Ride, a prominent race series in the gravel scene, has recently introduced a controversial participant policy addressing transgender athletes. This move comes after receiving backlash due to the victories of transwoman Austin Killips in their races. Unlike races sanctioned by the UCI or USA Cycling, Belgian Waffle Ride has the ability to establish its own rules and regulations.
Promoting Integrity and Equality: The New Approach
As of August 1, 2023, the new policy states that only individuals assigned female at birth are eligible to compete in the women’s category. The men’s category remains open to those assigned male at birth or who identify as male. Additionally, a third category called the “Open” division has been created to accommodate individuals of all gender identities. Notably, each category will offer equal prize money to ensure fairness.
Proof of Eligibility: A Fair Hiring Process
While Belgian Waffle Ride will not require all participants to provide proof of eligibility, organizers maintain the right to request it on a case-by-case basis. This decision, outlined on the race’s website, is intended to create a positive and supportive environment for all participants and promote fair competition.
Clashing with Existing Policies: UCI and National Governing Bodies
The new policy implemented by Belgian Waffle Ride contradicts the current eligibility policy set by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and adopted by several national governing bodies. The UCI allows male-to-female transgender athletes to compete in the women’s category if they identify as female and maintain specified testosterone levels for a designated period of time. However, there is disagreement among governing bodies on this approach, and British Cycling has recently aligned its policy with that of Belgian Waffle Ride.
UCI Reevaluates Eligibility for Transgender Athletes
Due to the controversy surrounding transgender athlete participation, the UCI will reconvene in August to further discuss and make decisions. The UCI aims to ensure fair competition while taking into account changing societal attitudes, concerns raised by female athletes, and scientific advancements.
Potential Impact on American Cycling: USA Cycling’s Response
As the UCI’s decision may influence other governing bodies, USA Cycling has expressed its intention to review its policies after the UCI’s discussion in August. Previously, USA Cycling has aligned its policies with the UCI and sought anonymous feedback from its members regarding transgender competitors. The outcome of the UCI’s deliberations could shape the future policies and practices of American cycling.
The Future of Inclusion for Transgender Athletes in Cycling
The introduction of Belgian Waffle Ride’s transgender athlete policy and the subsequent discussions at the UCI highlight the ongoing debate surrounding transgender participation in sports. The decisions made by organizations and governing bodies will undoubtedly impact the cycling landscape and set precedents for other sports to follow.