CRCA Demands Action From USA Cycling in Response to Arkansas’s Anti-Transgender Legislation

molly hurford­­
·4 min read
Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Recently, the state of Arkansas has passed anti-transgender legislation that has left the cycling community debating the consequences and actions for the many cycling companies and races organized in the state—and calling for action from USA Cycling.

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson recently signed one piece of legislation which bans transgender women and girls from competing on teams consistent with their gender identity, and another allowing health care workers to elect to not treat someone on “moral grounds.” Hutchinson initially vetoed a third piece of legislation that denies gender-reaffirming treatments to trans youth, but Arkansas lawmakers blocked Hutchinson’s veto.

The laws are discriminatory, and dangerous for transgender people, denying them critical access to medical treatment while also depriving many of the joy of playing youth sports freely.

USA Cycling recently released a statement on March 31 backing their support and inclusion of all athletes, including transgender athletes, and then released another statement on April 8 affirming its disapproval of the legislation passed in Arkansas.

But the statements have drawn criticism from cycling clubs around the country. In addition, the current USA Cycling leadership has attracted ire for one quote in particular:

“It would be different if our athletes were going to be affected, but we don’t believe they will be,” USAC CEO and President Rob DeMartini said in an interview with Singletracks.com. He then added, “There is a question around collegiate athletes if they’re racing for their school. What we’ll probably do is take out any team competition whatsoever and just let them race as individuals. That way we don’t feel like they’re in violation of the law.”

Teams like Ostroy / NYC Velo Cycling Team, Stamina Racing Collective x MFF, and Revolution Cycles Cycling Club have condemned Arkansas’ legislation and called on the International Cycling Union (UCI) and USA Cycling to take a firmer stance on the issue. Now, the Century Road Club Association (CRCA)—the largest and oldest racing organization in the United States—has released a statement that they plan to disassociate from USA Cycling for 2022, should the governing body continue on the current path of inaction.

“CRCA has typically relied on being a USA Cycling member club in order to pass along the greatest value to our approximately 800 members,” the CRCA Board said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are finding it increasingly difficult to continue partnering with USA Cycling while they demonstrate an inability to comprehend the severity of this threat to the human rights of their members and the population at large. The anti-trans legislation that recently passed in Arkansas is an injustice that subsequently affects both our athletes and all athletes.”

A club leaving USA Cycling isn’t a small move. Not only does USA Cycling provide things like discounted insurance to clubs, but it also hosts many competitions and group rides—and generally, you have to be a member to participate in these nationwide events (though day memberships are available).

But that won’t stop the CRCA. Their 12-member board of directors agreed that USA Cycling's mishandling of the situation in Arkansas needed to be addressed, and the idea to separate from the governing body for the 2022 season—unless changes were made—was formed. In their open letter to USA Cycling, the board asked for USAC to step up, or step aside.

“We’re not supporting an organization that’s not standing up for people when they can,” Emily Singleton, the communications director at CRCA, told Bicycling. “Of course we hope that USA Cycling will really step up and make the changes that a lot of voices are asking them to make.

Ultimately, the intention behind the CRCA statement is to firstly, put pressure on USA Cycling. The hope is that other clubs will also take notice and make similar motions.

But it’s also to assure members that the club unequivocally stands for all riders, said Tara Parsons, the VP of Rider Development at CRCA.

“Because we are such a big club, we felt that our statement would be really important,” Parsons told Bicycling. “We feel that as a club, before racing our bikes, we have to stand up for human rights. What’s going on in Arkansas is about trans athletes, but it’s also about human rights. And this is something that as bike racers, we can actually take a stand on.

“My mission in my life is to bring joy to people on the bike, and to get people more people riding. We are in New York City, and we have members of all different types,” Parsons added. “We want to say that no matter who you are in our membership, we will stand up for you.”

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