UK Cycling Time Trials (CTT) have updated their Transgender Policy, with Regulation 10 being officially amended on 14 June 2023. Their decision, whether intentional or not, is to exclude trans women from competing in their events whilst trying to appear inclusive, and therefore on the right side of the law. But they are most certainly not.
But another problem when you pursue a path that is never based in truth or reality (and as a result has to manufacture ways to impose its aims), is that the destructive net you cast can often have a far wider reach, and there is finally clear evidence that cisgender women will also suffer as a result of the tireless and totally unnecessary pursuit of trans women.
At TransLucent, and previously under the name of Steph’s Place, we have been warning for years of the dangers of Gender Critical aims having a serious impact on cisgender women, because they do not care who else is disadvantaged by their single intention, steamroller efforts to remove trans people from society. And this new policy is clear evidence of this coming to fruition.
The UK Cycling Time Trials Policy
Within this policy, Cycling Time Trials (CTT) set out who can now compete in each gender category which states:
The following table applies to transgender persons, that means all persons who wish to compete in a gender other than was assigned to them at birth.
|Affirmed Gender||Policy applies to||Policy|
|Male||A transgender male (female to male)||May compete in the Open Category|
|Female||A transgender female (male to female)||Must compete in the Open Category.|
|Non-Binary||A person who asserts they are neither male nor female.||Must compete in the Open Category.|
This therefore deals with the highly controversial introduction of a so called ‘Open Category’, which is little more than a disingenuous smokescreen to make the public believe that sport remains open to everyone. Those pushing this policy clearly know that sport is a human right and trans exclusion is simply not lawfully permitted. They will no doubt have taken legal advice that clarified that under current law (Equality Act 2010, Gender Reassignment) they cannot insist that trans women are treated as ‘men’ and must compete in a men’s category; so the latest attempt to get around this is to rename the Men’s event as an ‘Open Category’.
Whichever way you look at it, this is no more than forcing trans women into a men’s category. There are no other changes other than the name, so this category remains a Men’s event in every respect other than in name.
However, this scam of an idea simply doesn’t work on any moral or human rights level and is clearly open to a legal challenge. Trans women do not take hormone therapy and testosterone suppressants simply to compete in sport. They do so because it is medically prescribed as a vital part of their treatment for their mental health and wellbeing. It is a by-product of this treatment that it results in a reduction of sporting abilities, which so clearly explains why there has still not been one single elite sport trans women world record holder or winner of any medal of any colour in any sport at any elite World or Olympic Event. Only one trans women has even managed to qualify and competed in an Olympics, and she came last.
Given the reduction of sporting abilities, by forcing trans women to compete in a category with elite cisgender male athletes, CTT have effectively excluded ALL trans women because not one will be able to compete with cisgender men. There is absolutely zero chance of any trans women on hormone therapy and testosterone suppressant having anything like the ability to compete anywhere near the highest level of elite men’s sport.
Top trans women athletes have clearly struggled to retain sporting abilities that enable them to compete with top cisgender women, with not one proven successful elite trans women, so how could there feasibly be any chance of competing with the top cisgender men? An Open Category is a guaranteed exclusion (therefore a ban) of trans women.
So notwithstanding the practical reason of trans women not being able to compete in a CTT ‘Men’s’ Category, there is also the mental health issue of forcing trans women to compete with men (as simply renaming it ‘Open’ doesn’t hide the true intention of this), and also understanding that the sport will effectively be forcing some non-binary who were assigned as female at birth, to hide and deny their true identity if they hold any ambition to compete in this sport.
This is wrong on so many levels. Having to hide their identity and not live their life true to who they are, simply to be able to achieve and fulfil a life in sport, would be the only way they could continue to compete in the women’s category – this clearly is a total violation of human rights and is arguably bordering on Conversion Therapy as those born with a God given talent should not be forced to deny their true self or be prevented from fulfilling their true potential in life.
So clearly the new policy is totally unacceptable for trans competitors, but now we come onto the added madness of impact on cis women. This Policy update now includes an upper limit Testosterone level to be able to compete in the Women’s Category, and this applies to all cis women.
It is clear to all that cis men have a sporting advantage over cis women. The same record books that highlight the total lack of success of trans women, clearly highlight the difference in speed, strength, and winning margins between those at the very top of both recorded sexes. This recognition has always focused on the impact of male puberty, and belief that the differing levels of typical male and female testosterone levels plays a major role.
Because of this, most sports historically seeking inclusion took the position that trans women competing fairly & safely in women’s sport must prove a sustained ‘female appropriate’ level of testosterone. Over the years I myself have pointed out that if testosterone was the true indicator of fairness and safety, then why are no cis women tested if this was such a serious issue (it is known that there are cis women with higher testosterone levels into the male range). This is not a position that I want to see, and I will come onto that, but it was simply highlighting an indefensible position to believe it acceptable to apply only to trans women, especially if we are genuinely talking about safety issues. If having a high testosterone level was genuinely unsafe, then cis women with high levels should also be deemed a safety risk. But clearly the claimed danger or ‘unfair advantage’ was never that genuine to take that action … until now.
Within the new UK CTT Policy this is exactly what they have done, as their policy now states:
“The intention of the policy is to permit only persons to compete as female who satisfy all these 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.”
In this revised policy, the impact is to have banned a significant number of cisgender women from their sport. This will be women who up to now may have been competing and without any issue or raising any cause for concern.
And we do know that this will impact on cis women.
In 2014, a sporting study was released (https://doi.org/10.1111/cen.12445), dedicated to the memory of Dr Elizabeth Ferris, an Olympian and a strong voice for women in sport. Fairness in women’s sport was a genuine concern to her and she was successful in persuading the IOC to drop gender testing and was strongly opposed to the rule of the IOC and IAAF defining a ‘normal woman’ on the basis of testosterone levels.
She worked with the study team and presented the testosterone data from this study to the IOC/IAAF expert group emphasising the overlap between the male and female ranges. The following sections are taken directly from the text of their published study:
Objective: To measure a profile of hormones in a group of elite athletes. Increasing awareness of the widespread use of hormones as performance-enhancing agents focusses attention on what may be considered as normal in this unusual group.
Design: Blood samples were obtained from 813 volunteer elite athletes from a cross-section of 15 sporting categories. An endocrine profile was measured on a subset of 693.
Participants: Volunteer elite athletes. Samples were drawn within two hours of an event at a major national or international competition.
Measurements: Demographics and hormone profiles were obtained on 454 male and 239 female elite athletes.
Results: Hormone profiles showed significant differences in 19 of the 24 measured variables between sexes and between all of the 15 sporting disciplines in men and 11 out of 24 in women. 16·5% of men had low testosterone levels, whereas 13·7% of women had high levels with complete overlap between the sexes. Women had a lean body mass 85% that of men – sufficient to account for sex differences in performance. There were highly significant correlations between many of the measured hormones.
Conclusions: Hormone profiles from elite athletes differ from usual reference ranges. Individual results are dependent on a number of factors including age, gender and physique. Differences in profiles between sports suggest that an individual’s profile may contribute to his/her proficiency in a particular sport. The IOC definition of a woman as one who has a ‘normal’ testosterone level is untenable.
It is very clear from this, and other similar studies, that like so many aspects of this so called ‘debate’ there is never a clear black or white position. We know we cannot neatly fit 100% of the population into binary XX or XY chromosome sectors, an likewise we cannot split men and women simply by assessing testosterone levels. Having high testosterone levels alone in elite sport does not guarantee success in women’s sport, but if we do take this position, we will Impact on a far wider group of women.
One such example is women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. According to the NHS website ‘It’s difficult to know exactly how many women have PCOS, but it’s thought to be very common, affecting about 1 in every 10 women in the UK. ‘Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of insulin in their body and produce higher levels of insulin to overcome this. This contributes to the increased production and activity of hormones like testosterone’
So the facts state that when we look at cisgender women with PCOS, this accounts for 10% of the female population who could all have testosterone levels far in excess of the ‘normal’ female range, but is there any evidence that having PCOS is having an impact?
The answer is yes; as previously highlighted by TransLucent, there is evidence that women with PCOS do have an advantage when competing in sports, as a study in Sweden revealed that 37% of the Swedish women’s Olympic team had PCOS, which clearly is nearly four times the number than would be expected, and clear evidence that benefiting from a higher testosterone level does give a clear advantage resulting in enhanced sporting ability (and at this point please remember that the number of trans women on the Swedish Olympic team is 0%; so 37% have PCOS and 0% are trans, and yet somehow it’s trans women who have the UNFAIR advantage?).
So now we find ourselves entering the territory when cisgender women are being removed from sport … and the reality … it’s for no good reason.
As PCOS impacts on 10% of Women, if this policy is rolled out across all sports you could be removing up 10% of all cisgender women from competing in elite sport – if the CTT Policy is universally replicated in sport, they would all be forced to compete in the (Men’s) Open Category. Is this really what we want to see happen?
And how could it end there? Once we set a precedent for defining exactly what is or isn’t fair in sport we need to start looking at every single area where any ‘natural advantage’ is now deemed an’ unfair advantage’ that needs removing.
And guess what that does – it totally destroys sport. Sport has always been about pitting the best against each other and those at the highest levels working as hard as they can to find that extra cm in distance or reducing that 0.1 sec in time. That’s achieved through specialist training and improved equipment that can push those boundaries. Do we really want sport to be about ensuring every competitor crosses the line at the same time, because if we aim to remove every single advantage, then that is what we are aiming for.
It is well know that GB sport intentionally implemented what is known as ‘Financial Doping’ (see my article In search of Sporting Glory) to gain a massive ‘unfair’ advantage to win Gold Olympic Medals. When we met double Olympian Gold Medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes, she herself raised this very point. There is no question she achieved her glorious victories due to her unbelievable hard work, amazing natural born talent and her incredible mental strength. But she understands that it was also with the benefit of financial aid to ensure she had access to the best facilities and coaching to harness and maximise the impact of her talents to reach her full potential, but most importantly it was all 100% within the rules.
When it comes to sport, we do need rules to ensure it is acceptable. I believe it would be unfair to have ‘anything goes’ rules to permit trans women to compete in women’s sport simply based on a declaration of being trans. Without undergoing hormone therapy and testosterone suppressant we know they will have a clear and genuinely unfair advantage, so it is right that we have rules to ensure they have reached the stage of transition that due to their treatment makes it fair.
This is a modern problem that was never an issue and the only focus was rightly on preventing premeditated cheating. 10 years ago, did anyone truly question whether sport was intrinsically unfair and was being ruined as a result of a natural advantage? Surely no one truly wants to prevent the next Michael Phelps from hitting the height he so famously achieved in becoming the greatest Olympian of all time. Yet if we applied the basic principles of this new UK Cycling Time Trials policy to Michael Phelps, he would not be permitted to compete. If it were deemed only fair that a swimmer had to meet lactose range requirements or not have double jointed limbs, or feet larger than a ‘normal’ range, then Phelps would have been removed from the sport. Is that what we truly want? I genuinely hope not.
As the 2014 study earlier quoted concluded, “The IOC definition of a woman as one who has a ‘normal’ testosterone level is untenable.”
If a cisgender Women is born with PCOS than that’s who she is, she is a normal human being, because we are not all born the same. And if someone is born transgender then that is who they are.
We are all normal but we have individual differences that make us unique. Should anyone who doesn’t fall within society’s perception of ‘normal’ be ostracised? Innocent people will continue lose out if we follow this dangerous path. Cisgender women will lose out. I firmly believe that any attempt to rule out differences or advantages that are not intrinsically unfair, will be the ruin of sport. Premeditated cheating, like sport enhancing drugs, are clearly a violation of everything sport stands for, but encouraging everyone to be their very best and take advantage of everything within the rules is what we all sports fans love to see. It is the very essence of sport. I for one want to see a stop to this nonsense and for everyone to be permitted to use any natural born advantages they have to reach their full potential in life.
When are we going to wake up and stop this roller-coaster of Gender Critical ideology that is seeking to destroy sport as we know it and will cause so much harm and damage to so many lives, as those who are pushing this do not care who gets caught in their net.