In a massive win for the movement fighting for the integrity of women’s spaces, an international cycling union has formally banned biological men who identify as transgender women from competing in women’s events.

“The meeting of the UCI Management Committee was held following a seminar on the conditions for the participation of transgender athletes in women’s cycling events, organized by the UCI on 21 June, at which the various stakeholders—transgender and cisgender athletes; experts from the scientific, legal and human rights fields; and sporting institutions—were able to present their respective positions,” the Union Cycliste Internationale said in a statement.

“From now on, female transgender athletes who have transitioned after [male] puberty will be prohibited from participating in women’s events on the UCI International Calendar—in all categories—in the various disciplines.”

The move comes as women’s advocates across the globe push back against the intrusion of biological men into women’s spaces.

“[Union Cycliste Internationale] has joined the likes of FINA and World Athletics and prioritized fairness in sport rather than feelings,” said Riley Gaines, who swam against a biologically male athlete, Lia Thomas, and has become a nationally known advocate for preserving the integrity of women’s spaces. “Cycling has been heavily infiltrated with males competing in the women’s division, so this is huge.”

Champion swimmer Riley Gaines (center) speaks at a discussion on transgender athletes in women’s sports during a National Girls and Women in Sports Day event on Capitol Hill on Feb. 1. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The Independent Women’s Forum had led an open petition to UCI and to USA Cycling calling for rules to distinguish between the sexes and to give female cyclists fair chances in competition. The group had also held daily protests against biological males in women’s sports along the course routes of the USA Cycling Women’s Pro Road National Championship.

“In the world of sports,” the petition said, “it is impossible to provide equal opportunities for both sexes without single-sex teams. Women deserve access to fair competition, equal opportunities, training, and victory. Don’t let women cyclists be unseated.”

Another female athlete, Inga Thompson, who was forced to compete against a man, said in a statement that she is “enormously pleased to see the UCI has chosen fairness for women athletes.”

“Ninety-three percent of the pro women cyclists did not agree with the transgender woman competing in women’s cycling. The UCI listened to their women and listened to the current science,” said Thompson, a 10-time U.S. national champion, three-time Olympian, and two-time podium finisher in the Women’s Tour de France. “Bravo to the UCI.”

Cyclist Inga Thompson speaks to a TV reporter after a women’s race in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia near Barcelona, Spain, on July 26, 1992. (Photo: David Madison/Getty Images)

“I know this decision was difficult for the UCI,” she said. “We all want transgender athletes to feel welcome in sports. It is enormously important that both women and transgender women have opportunities to succeed in the classification in which they qualify. Every male racer I know is very welcoming of women and transgender women in their sport. Women deserve access to fair competition, equal opportunities, training, and victory. That’s what UCI delivered today.”


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