PM Boris Johnson said transgender women should not be competing in women’s sport as he commented on the issue of transgender athletes, centred around the balance of inclusion, sporting fairness and safety in women’s sport
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said transgender women should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports. The case of cyclist Emily Bridges has once against thrust the issue of transgender athletes – centred around the balance of inclusion, sporting fairness and safety in women’s sport – into the spotlight.
The 21-year-old was cleared to race against Dame Laura Kenny in last week’s National Omnium Championships. Bridges was cleared to compete by British Cycling after reducing her testosterone to the required levels but she was then blocked by the UCI, whose guidelines allow them six weeks to convene an expert panel to review a case.
In the States, transgender swimmer Lia Thomas won a NCAA 500m freestyle title and faced a barrage of criticism, with some claiming her victory was unfair on her opponents. “I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events. Maybe that’s a controversial thing to say, but it just seems to me to be sensible,” the Prime Minister said when voicing his opinion on the subject.
“I also happen to think that women should have spaces – whether it’s in hospitals, prison or changing rooms – which are dedicated to women. That’s as far as my thinking has developed on this issue. If that puts me in conflict with some others, then we have got to work it all out. It doesn’t mean I’m not immensely sympathetic to people who want to change gender, to transition and it’s vital we give people the maximum love and support in making those decisions. These are complex issues and they can’t be solved with one swift, easy piece of legislation. It takes a lot of thought to get this right.”
Johnson is in agreement with one of 76 women who wrote to world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, criticising the current policy on trans athletes. The group believes the rule that states trans cyclists are allowed to compete if their testosterone levels remain below five nanomoles per litre for twelve months should be rescinded, because it is unfair. They wrote: “Recently female athletes in the UK have shown you that they were willing to boycott their own National Championships to get the UCI and British Cycling to hear their concerns about fairness in sport.
“That is how seriously female athletes are taking this issue and we greatly respect what our sisters were willing to sacrifice to have their voices heard. We are saddened that this should ever have been necessary,” the letter read. “We believe that rule 13.5.015 does not guarantee female athletes ‘fair and meaningful’ competition as the UCI has promised.
“We believe that the rule is discriminatory in that it advantages only biological male athletes by providing them greater opportunity to compete and enjoy the rewards of sport at its highest level. We ask that unless the UCI can provide robust scientific evidence that the rule guarantees fairness for female athletes, that the UCI rescind rule 13.5.015 effective immediately and implement eligibility criteria for the female category that is based on female biological characteristics.”