Cycling Australia introduces new transgender athlete policy

Following the news of USA Cycling‘s new policy on transgender athletes, Cycling Australia told CyclingTips that they, too, are in the process of adopting a new policy for transgender athletes at both the club and professional levels.

Ever since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its revised guidelines on transgender athletes in January 2016, sports governing bodies everywhere have been grappling with the balance of fair play and the sanctity of their sport.

The IOC guidelines were updated to allow transmen –riders who were born female– to compete in the men’s categories without restriction, while transwomen –riders born male–are eligible to compete in the women’s categories without first undergoing a sex reassignment surgery upon meeting some strict rules set around testosterone levels.

Where the current language surrounding transgender athletes lends itself to potential misinterpretation, Cycling Australia’s Kipp Kaufmann told CyclingTips that they’ve been working with Pride in Sport and the IOC to ensure that the new policy is clear and protects both the athletes and the sanctity of fair play.

“For some time, we have had a member protection policy –which is put forward by the Australian Sports Commission –but it’s a wide ranging statement that is a bit unclear. We have been doing some work with the Pride in Sport, which in an index that looks at inclusivity in the sport, and as part of that, we are making some changes and one of that is in regards to transgender athletes,” said Kaufmann.

“Our big change is really at the grassroots or introductory level,” Kaufmann continued. “There haven’t been any high profile cases, however, it is an issue that has come up at the state level, where [this policy] will have an immediate impact.

The new policy will read that a person who’s transgender is allowed to self-declare at the club or interclub level. So there’s no testing or requirements to get involved as there previously have been.”

For elite competition, Cycling Australia adopt the IOC’s standards.

For amateur racing

As Kaufmann mentioned, club and interclub riders in Australia will be allowed to self-select their gender when applying for a license or entering a race.

“CA recognises that excluding people from participating in cycling events and activities because of their gender identity may have significant implications for their health, wellbeing and involvement in community life,” the proposed policy states.  “In the case of club or inter-club events we support participation on the basis of the gender with which a person identifies.”

For elite competition

For elite racers, Cycling Australia adopts the IOC’s guidelines.

“In the case of participation at State, National and International levels CA will apply the International Olympic Committee (IOC) criteria for selection and participation. Where a transgender person intends to compete at these levels, we will encourage them to obtain advice about the IOC’s criteria which may differ from the position we have taken,” the proposed language states.

By IOC standards, guidelines state that biological women can compete as men without restriction, while biological men wishing to compete as women must meet the following criteria:

  • The athlete has declared that her gender identity is female. The declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
  • The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
  • The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
  • Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by random or for-cause testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.

“This is an area that Cycling Australia and our states have been looking at. We felt this is a really important item we should tackle and everything came together at the right time with having a great partner in Pride in Sports who has really good expertise,” said Kaufmann.

“To us, it seems the right way forward if we want to become more inclusive as a sport,” Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green added.

For background information, please read our story on American racer Jillian Bearden, including her pre- and post-transition power numbers.