Cycling Time Trials issues new rules for trans competitors – that also affect cis women

CTT's trans ban isn't just a trans ban
Support us and go ad-free

Cycling Time Trials (CTT) – the national governing body for time trial events in England, Scotland, and Wales – has issued new, stringent rules for trans competitors. Now, anybody wishing to compete as any gender other than that assigned to them at birth must participate in the ‘open’ category. This was, until recently, known as the men’s category. However, the new rules will also prevent a good deal of cis women from competing in the women’s category.

The rules

CTT’s rebrand of the men’s category as ‘open’ follows a similar move from British Cycling in May. In its FAQ section, CTT stated that it issued the new rules:

Because we are convinced that after undergoing male puberty a rider will retain strength, stamina and physique which will give them a permanent advantage over someone who has not.

However, this given motivation is belied by the list of people affected by the rules. Trans men, trans women, and non-binary people are all required to compete in the open category. This makes no reference to male puberty, or taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It simply shifts all trans people into the open category.

As such, a non-binary athlete who was assigned female at birth, who has never taken testosterone, is now required to race against men. This is clearly not a requirement motivated by a belief in the advantages of male puberty. It is a requirement that trans people – any and all trans people – be denied the opportunity to compete against cis women.

Massive overreach

However, the new rules don’t stop with trans people, either. They state that a competitor in the women’s category must satisfy all of three requirements:

they must have been assigned the sex female at birth, they must never have gone through any part of male puberty and they must not have had a testosterone result in serum above 2.5 nmol/L level before competing even if they satisfy the other two requirements.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The last requirement is extraordinary. Testosterone (T) is often spoken of as the ‘male sex hormone’. However, it’s also produced naturally in the bodies of cis women. What’s more, it can vary for a number of reasons, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Around one in ten people with ovaries will develop PCOS at some point in their lives.

Research has shown that higher T levels in male athletes can produce better performance. However, there are comparatively few similar studies for women. That said, elite female athletes tend to have higher T levels than the general population – making CTT’s new rules more likely to affect them.

What’s more, the NHS considers the reference range for serum T in women to be anything below 2.7 nmol/L. So, CTT’s rules aren’t even in line with a ‘normal’ T range. Any attempt to define an ‘acceptable’ hormone profile for an athlete will be arbitrary. CTT’s ruling pushes past that into the pointlessly punitive.

‘Promoting inclusivity’

Chair, Andrea Parish, said of the new rules:

Here at CTT, we are committed to the promotion of inclusivity and a fair competition in sport. This decision underpins these such values and shows our collective support for women’s sport.

However, we have got to ask: is this what inclusivity looks like to you? These are rules on women’s sport which exclude any trans person, of any body type or hormone profile. They exclude women with common conditions that cause even mildly elevated T.

CTT’s new rules are part of the widespread reaction to trans participation in sport. They also continue the campaign of exclusion waged against intersex athletes like Caster Semenya. If you wanted a demonstration of how such policing of womanhood hurts far more than just the trans people it claims to target, look no further.

Featured image via Unsplash/Coen van de Broek

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Next: CTT issues new rules mandating that privileged, wealthy riders who had the huge advantages of a private education will have to compete only against each other. A spokesperson said: “We recognise the widespread injustices that unearned wealth provides for a small proportion of the population who are consequently widely over-represented in elite sports, as in all elite occupations. Therefore, we have decided to ensure that there is a more egalitarian arena for competitive cyclists of all backgrounds, no matter if they are working class and did not have access to the training facilities, nutrition and other advantages provided to children of wealthy families.”

    2. Realistically, now they have set the principle of categorisation by testosterone level, they should do away with all gender categories and simply have a single category with time handicaps based on testosterone level at check in.

      1. And then add handicaps based on family wealth, private education and other unfair advantages. Why are you singling our trans people – a tiny proportion of the sporting population – while giving a free pass to the privately educated – a far larger proportion?

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.