British Cycling becomes latest sport to ban transgender women from competing

The News

British Cycling has barred transgender women from competing in female events, becoming the latest sports body to implement such a ban.

The decision follows a nine-month policy review and will divide cyclists into “female” or “open” categories, with the open category designated for men, trans women or men, and non-binary people.

Here’s a look at other organizations that have barred trans women from female categories.

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World Athletics Council

The World Athletics Council, a track and field body, barred trans women from female competitions in March. The council said there were no transgender athletes currently competing in the sport, and that they did not know exactly what type of impact trans athletes would have on competition.

President Sebastian Coe said in a statement at the time that the council would “continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations.”

World Swimming

The international swimming governing body World Aquatics, formerly known as FINA, effectively banned trans women from competing last year after adopting a “gender inclusion policy” that would only allow trans women who transitioned before age 12 to compete in women’s events.

A World Aquatics spokesperson told the Associated Press that there were no transgender women competing in the sport at its highest levels at the time that the ban was implemented.

Like British Cycling, World Aquatics implemented an open category for men and gender-diverse competitors.

International Rugby League

The global rugby league governing body barred transgender women from the game last year, following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) guideline for clubs to determine their own rules. The decision barred trans women from competing in the women's Rugby World Cup last October. The IRL will continue its review of that policy this year, but said the ban will stand until further research into unfair advantages is completed.

Step Back

Sports organizations around the world have implemented bans on transgender athletes in recent months. Such bans usually target trans women, arguing they have an unfair advantage over competitors who were assigned female at birth.

In late 2021 the IOC said that it was up to individual sporting organizations to determine their own rules for trans competitors. The body added that there should be no assumption that trans athletes automatically have an advantage over other athletes.


  • There’s limited evidence on whether transgender athletes actually have any advantage over cisgender competitors in sports. Speaking to the journal Science, geneticist Eric Vilain said there is no consensus in the medical community about whether trans women are capable of outperforming their cis peers.