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UCI world cyclocross championships under fire due to anti-trans laws in host state Arkansas

Cycling journalist Tara Seplavy has boycotted the event, saying she doesn’t “feel personally safe going to Arkansas right now as a visibly trans person”

As the world cyclocross championships come to a close this evening, the UCI’s decision to stage the event in Fayetteville, Arkansas has come under fire due to the state’s anti-trans legislation.

In April 2021, Arkansas became the first state to ban gender-affirming treatments and surgery for transgender youth. Later that month Brook Watts, a longstanding cyclocross promoter in the United States, resigned from his role as organiser of the Fayetteville world championships in protest against the new law. 

“The situation in Arkansas remains problematic and unfortunately, I don’t see any satisfactory resolution,” Watts said at the time. “I have sincerely but unsuccessfully attempted to work out my concerns and differences with constituents. However, regrettably, we were not successful”.

At the US national cyclocross championships in December, anti-trans activists representing a group called ‘Save Women’s Sport’ staged a protest, shouting and holding signs opposing transgender participation during the women’s race. 

USA Cycling was heavily criticised for not taking adequate action to prevent the protest taking place at the event in DuPage County, Illinois, with trans rights supporters saying that the governing body did not facilitate a safe and inclusive environment for all competitors and spectators.

> British Cycling launch consultation on transgender policy

Tara Seplavy, the deputy editor of Bicycling Magazine, referenced the protest in Illinois when she announced on social media yesterday that she was boycotting this weekend’s world championships.

“For several reasons I don’t feel personally safe going to Arkansas right now as a visibly trans person,” she wrote. “I also do not feel comfortable rewarding USA Cycling for its continued lack of action or follow-up for allowing a hate group to attend US national championship events to harass athletes. I am not even sure if I will tune in to watch the races online at this point to be frank.

“The ship sailed moons ago on any type of boycott or direct action of the event. Instead of attending Worlds, I urge friends and followers to donate to organizations fighting against hate legislation in the state, doing work for the queer community in the region, or advocating for the rights of trans athletes in cycling.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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299 comments

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JustTryingToGet... replied to Miller | 2 years ago
10 likes

Is that the easiest question to answer?
I identify as a woman, at birth a doctor decided my outside repro bits were sufficiently shaped to be classed as female, having had two kids I'm confident my inner repro bits class me as female. I haven't had my chromosomes tested but I suspect they come under typically female as well.

Hormones are where it gets interesting. Like an estimated 10% of women, I'm polycystic and have elevated testosterone. Probably higher levels than a significant number of men. My understanding is sex hormane levels vary more within genders than the average between the genders.

I'm very uncomfortable with TERF positions. Firstly, I don't think there is any single definition that classifies people into two neat binary categories and nothing I have read so far convinces me otherwise. Secondly, the biological advantage bit is weird for me.... because all top sports people have biological advantages and we still enjoy it... I'm happy to allow the scientists to work out what's fair on that one.
Finally, the safe spaces is the kicker. Trans people are far and away the most vulnerable category of people
There will always be examples of a woman did this, a trans woman did that but the reality is men presenting as men are far and away more likely to be attacking anyone of any gender. So instead of excluding vulnerable groups everyone would be safer if energy was spent on the root cause of the issue.

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nosferatu1001 replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 2 years ago
3 likes

Thank you. Having many trans friends the idea that they're the risk I find to be incomprehensible. It seems to be fear of ither manifesting again, and mostly by the US right now they've realised attacking LBTQA isn't working for them, but attacking T can still yield results, sadly. 

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MsG replied to Miller | 2 years ago
1 like

Yes. See my comments from last night.

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SpiderJ | 2 years ago
11 likes

Save Women's Sports is not anti-trans. It's FOR women. It is fighting to protect single-sex categories in sport from having men in them. Male-born athletes are still more than welcome and able to compete in the male or open categories. Nobody is stopping them. So, it's very inclusive. But allowing male-born athletes into female sport PUSHES women out and will destroy the category.

We don't allow senior athletes to compete in junior categories for good reason. So there is no reason to allow male bodies in female sport.

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nosferatu1001 replied to SpiderJ | 2 years ago
5 likes

No, that's not how it works. If you decide women aren't women, becaus they don't fit your definition of a woman, you're very much not pro-women. 
 

The entire premise is that people will willingly transition just to compete. That's not happening. It isn't going to happen. 
 

"Separate but equal".  Apparently that lesson hasn't been learned yet

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joe9090 replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
2 likes

If someone was born with a man's body and all the associated junk and then decide they are a woman and also claim they were a woman when they were born... must we then 'decide' that this is fact also and not question it? 

If you have a 90+ kilo 2+ meter tall Adonis of a woman who was originally born with a male body smiting all the competition in a woman's class in a specific sport (one that favours strength and inherent athleticism) - is that not somehow like erm... weird or even unfair to other women? 

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wycombewheeler replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
3 likes

I don't believe any male athlete would transition to move from also ran to potential winner. (although I can't be certain as many people were prepared to take dangerous drugs)

But I can't accept a previously male athlete has no physical advantages such as longer limbs and greater muscle mass. While we can say the numbers of trans people competing as women is tiny it's not an issue. It is an issue to the woman standing second on the pdodium, looking at someone with the strength and build of a man on the top step. 

Has any research been done on when/if the advantage of greater strength deteroriates to the point of no benefit after transitioning?

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes

One go-to person seems to be Veronica Ivy.  See Wikipedia article then search from there.  I think she's been cited on road.cc before - probably with lots of heat and little light in the comments.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes

There are also debates from other angles about how current sporting rules are drawn up, see e.g Caster Semenya.

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Captain Badger replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

I don't believe any male athlete would transition to move from also ran to potential winner. (although I can't be certain as many people were prepared to take dangerous drugs)

But I can't accept a previously male athlete has no physical advantages such as longer limbs and greater muscle mass. While we can say the numbers of trans people competing as women is tiny it's not an issue. It is an issue to the woman standing second on the pdodium, looking at someone with the strength and build of a man on the top step. 

Has any research been done on when/if the advantage of greater strength deteroriates to the point of no benefit after transitioning?

it's an interesting point, although every winner will have some advantages. It's why they won. There is no such thing as a fair fight, the most we can say is that one might be is played in accordance with culturally manufactured rules.

Your thought experiment is interesting. You would have to identify what "the strength and build of a man" actually is. Would cis-gendered women who fall into this category be barred from competing in women's events? Would cis men who have the "strength and build of a woman" be allowed to participate in women's events? Would they be barred from men's events?

Regarding your last question, (Has any research been done on when/if the advantage of greater strength deteroriates to the point of no benefit after transitioning?) I have seen articles demonstrating either way - as we know it is easy to find evidence on the internet supporting both sides of any argument (surely there's a law here - Badgers Law...?). As time goes on a broader picture will emerge.

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wycombewheeler replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
1 like
Captain Badger wrote:

 

it's an interesting point, although every winner will have some advantages. It's why they won. There is no such thing as a fair fight, the most we can say is that one might be is played in accordance with culturally manufactured rules.

We know roughly what the physical advantage of being male over female is in each event, based on comparison of world records. So if the performance of a post transition female had deteriorated by that percentage over their pre op performance, then the advantage could be considered to be withinthe realms of fairness

So the mens record for the mrathon is 122 minutes and the womens record is 139 minutes. (14%) If a man was runnin 126 minutes before transition and 136 minutes post transition, then it's hard to assign their post transition world record to anything other than previously having been male.

Interestingly the biggest percentage differences are in throwing events  (36% further in the javelin). It's hard to imagine someone transitioning would lose that sort of distance from their throwing ability.

Of course it's hard to see the change if someone only takes up sport after transition, but proof of the advantage could be demonstrated or disproven wit those that competed before and after

But height is definitely an advantage in many sports and no matter what happens post op height will not change this is one advantage locked in at puberty

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Captain Badger replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
Captain Badger wrote:

 

it's an interesting point, although every winner will have some advantages. It's why they won. There is no such thing as a fair fight, the most we can say is that one might be is played in accordance with culturally manufactured rules.

We know roughly what the physical advantage of being male over female is in each event, based on comparison of world records. So if the performance of a post transition female had deteriorated by that percentage over their pre op performance, then the advantage could be considered to be withinthe realms of fairness

So the mens record for the mrathon is 122 minutes and the womens record is 139 minutes. (14%) If a man was runnin 126 minutes before transition and 136 minutes post transition, then it's hard to assign their post transition world record to anything other than previously having been male.

Interestingly the biggest percentage differences are in throwing events  (36% further in the javelin). It's hard to imagine someone transitioning would lose that sort of distance from their throwing ability.

Of course it's hard to see the change if someone only takes up sport after transition, but proof of the advantage could be demonstrated or disproven wit those that competed before and after

But height is definitely an advantage in many sports and no matter what happens post op height will not change this is one advantage locked in at puberty

It certainly would be fascinating to see these figures - we will see more of them as this plays out. It would be hard though to use the timings of one individual to make rules about other people. And again what if a cis woman achieves these levels - is she banned from participating in women's events?

Of course another advantage may be cultural. Social conditioning by gender is a huge factor in participation in sports, and achievement thereof. If physical advantages peter out over time, do psychological advantages? 

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vthejk replied to SpiderJ | 2 years ago
4 likes
SpiderJ wrote:

Save Women's Sports is not anti-trans. It's FOR women. It is fighting to protect single-sex categories in sport from having men in them. Male-born athletes are still more than welcome and able to compete in the male or open categories. Nobody is stopping them. So, it's very inclusive. But allowing male-born athletes into female sport PUSHES women out and will destroy the category.

We don't allow senior athletes to compete in junior categories for good reason. So there is no reason to allow male bodies in female sport.

It's frankly laughable that someone would transition in order to be obectively better at a sport than someone else. Transitioning is a deeply personal and long-winded culmination of people's identity crises that, often, are so damaging if left unattended that loads of folks commit suicide and self-harm if unable to live as their true selves, as women or men if born differently. 
So why ban ALL trans folks from competing, when the reality is that a) the number of trans athletes wishing to compete is as yet small, and b) as someone has already pointed out, the number of trans athletes competing with obvious physical advantages is even smaller? 
This is aking to banning cycling to stop a few people jumping traffic lights. Cycling is not the problem, those few people are. Demonising cycling/trans folks in general is just a weapon used by those in power to justify their prejudices.

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nosferatu1001 replied to vthejk | 2 years ago
3 likes

Exactly! It's ludicrous to suggest people transition purely to compete. It isn't happening. 
 

Same as the dog whistling about access to other spaces. Cis-men are still the issue there.  

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sparrowlegs replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
0 likes

I think you'll find biological men are the issue.

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nosferatu1001 replied to sparrowlegs | 2 years ago
0 likes

Weird, you keep using that term, but can't seem to define it yet. Care to get on that?

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vthejk replied to sparrowlegs | 2 years ago
2 likes

If you're using 'biological men' to define both cis men and trans women post-transitioning, you might find that hormone therapy etc. don't really leave trans women with any vestiges of male 'biology' per se. No-one is going around identifying people by their X and Y chromosomes. Besides, a penis and testicles do not 'manly' attitudes make.

See also: male gender as a cultural phenomenon.

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ErnieC replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
1 like
nosferatu1001 wrote:

Exactly! It's ludicrous to suggest people transition purely to compete. It isn't happening. 
 

Same as the dog whistling about access to other spaces. Cis-men are still the issue there.  

and you base your broad strokes statement that cis-men are the issue based on what data? Sounds like hate group thinking - "they" are the problem whoever "they" may be. 

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nosferatu1001 replied to ErnieC | 2 years ago
0 likes

Based on the overwhelming data on criminals, mostly.  
Compare cis-male offending rates vs trans-women.  

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Backladder replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
1 like
nosferatu1001 wrote:

Exactly! It's ludicrous to suggest people transition purely to compete. It isn't happening. 
 

Same as the dog whistling about access to other spaces. Cis-men are still the issue there.  

Sweeping statements like this make you part of the problem as far as I am concerned, cis-men are not the issue, some individual cis-men may be the issue but branding us all as the issue is insulting to the vast majority of us!

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nosferatu1001 replied to Backladder | 2 years ago
0 likes

Part of what problem? It's a fact that the overwhelming majority of crimes against women, whether cis- or trans-, is by cis-identifying males. Pointing out that trans-women are not a statistical risk factor doesn't make me "part of" a problem 

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Backladder replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
2 likes

You're blaming all cis-men for the actions of a few, that tactic is not going to win you much support and would be called "hate speach" if it was applied to any other group.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Backladder | 2 years ago
0 likes

No, no I'm not. Im responding to a point stating that trans women are a problem when it comes to access to single gender spaces, by pointing out that even in this spaces, the overwhelming majority of cases are from cis-males. That isn't saying all cismales everywhere are always a problem, but in this context, the more likely offender by far is a cis-male. 
try to understand context. 

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vthejk replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
1 like

You're not wrong in suggesting that cis men are the issue. Or in suggesting that that statement requires context. It seems like everyone who is commenting that 'Not all cis men' is either missing this context, or choosing to wilfully ignore it. 

Other examples - 'Black Lives Matter' -----> 'No, all lives matter!' 

'This woman is afraid that a man might assault them' ------> 'But, I'm a man and I won't assault them....'

The context being that, as you've rightly stated, trans women and men are being blamed for reducing chances for cis women to participate in sports, whereas in reality the actions of cis men, both in sports management (Patrick Lefevere, anyone?) and in sports participation have been proven as harmful to women's rights in sports.

Most people get so het up about supposed attacks on themselves or whatever group they belong to, that they forget to place themselves in the shoes of those being oppressed or hurt.

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Backladder replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Relying on people understanding your point because of context is lazy writing and in my opinion stupid in an argument as people will bring their own context to the argument as can be seen in other posts in this thread. Your phrase "the more likely offender by far is a cis-male" would have fitted fine in the post I complained about and would have removed any ambiguity. Please try to make your arguments clear.

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mdavidford replied to Backladder | 2 years ago
1 like

I think you may have confused the comments section with a peer-reviewed journal. When you talk to people at the pub, do you accuse them of being 'lazy' and 'stupid' every time there's any ambiguity in something they say?

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Backladder replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
0 likes

But this is not the pub, there is far less information transferred by the written word than by the spoken word, think of how many times you have seen a flame war arise on the internet over something trivial. This thread is about a very serious subject and people should put appropriate thought into their posts.

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mdavidford replied to Backladder | 2 years ago
2 likes

It's the virtual equivalent of the pub - people in the comments section are not professional wordsmiths - you can't expect every comment to be the result of extensive research and hours of carefully crafting prose.

If you're concerned about 'flame wars', then I'd suggest calling people 'lazy' and 'stupid' is probably not the best way to go about avoiding one.

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Backladder replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
0 likes

I called the writing lazy and the method of arguing stupid specifically to try to avoid people taking the words out of context.

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mdavidford replied to Backladder | 2 years ago
1 like
Backladder wrote:

I called the writing lazy and the method of arguing stupid specifically to try to avoid people taking the words out of context.

Maybe you should have tried harder.

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