The organisers of the Commonwealth Games have agreed gender rules for the event in Birmingham later this year, which could see a trans woman compete in a female cycling event.

The Commonwealth Games Federation has been discussing how to manage the issue of transgender competition for the past 12 months, and has now finalised its policy, according to The Telegraph.

The competition will follow the rules applied by individual sporting bodies within each discipline.

In cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale, has a transgender policy that requires a rider’s testosterone level to be below 5nmol/L for at least 12 months before their first race.

According to the Telegraph, that means an unnamed athlete, who previously competed in male events, will now be in contention for selection in a female cycling category.

‘The CGF will work in close partnership with the relevant international federations to establish qualification and eligibility criteria for athlete participation at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games,’ the federation told the paper.

The Birmingham 2022 Festival opened this month, heralding the Commonwealth Games

The Birmingham 2022 Festival opened this month, heralding the Commonwealth Games

The Birmingham 2022 Festival opened this month, heralding the Commonwealth Games 

A spokesman said the new policy ‘will be in keeping with principles established in the IOC framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations’.

‘We embrace all Commonwealth athletes, citizens, communities and nations and promote fairness, non-discrimination and inclusion,’ the federation added.

The rules do not differ greatly from those applied at the event in 2018, which were held in Australia.

At those Games, trans weight lifter, Laurel Hubbard, qualified for the Australian team in the 90+kg category. However, an elbow injury ruled her out of the competition.

Rules agreed by the Commonwealth Games Federation could see a trans woman compete in female cycling at the event in Birmingham

Rules agreed by the Commonwealth Games Federation could see a trans woman compete in female cycling at the event in Birmingham

Rules agreed by the Commonwealth Games Federation could see a trans woman compete in female cycling at the event in Birmingham

Hubbard went on to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She was not the favourite going into the competition and failed with three snatch lifts and was placed bottom of her group.

Hubbard’s participation at the Olympics brought the issue of transgender competition into sharp focus and it has continued to be a divisive issue in sport.

There was huge controversy last weekend when the American swimmer Lia Thomas, who transitioned in 2019, won the US national college title in the women’s 500-yard freestyle.

Swimming currently imposes a limit of 10nmol/L on the testosterone levels for trans women. That is twice the level of cycling and athletics. 

Lia Thomas has dominated women's swimming events since transitioning from a male

Lia Thomas has dominated women's swimming events since transitioning from a male

Lia Thomas has dominated women’s swimming events since transitioning from a male

Thomas’ victory has sparked an outcry from rivals and escalated the conversation around the future risks to the female category in sport, with World Athletics president Sebastian Coe concerned that women’s sport is in a ‘very fragile’ place.

He said: ‘It is inevitable that as in any element of science you will go on understanding and learning, but there is no question to me that testosterone is the key determinant in performance. 

‘Look at the nature of 12 or 13-year-old girls. I remember my daughters would regularly outrun male counterparts in their class but as soon as puberty kicks in that gap opens and it remains. Gender cannot trump biology.’  

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says women’s sport is in a ‘very fragile’ place

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says women’s sport is in a ‘very fragile’ place

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says women’s sport is in a ‘very fragile’ place

When asked how athletics might respond if the debate currently raging through swimming spreads to track and field, Coe said: ‘If I feel that we’ve got the right processes in place and what we’re doing is, in large part, evidence and science-based, I will feel a whole heap more comfortable.

‘You can’t be oblivious to public sentiment, of course not. 

‘But science is important. If I wasn’t satisfied with the science that we have and the experts that we have used and the in-house teams that have been working on this for a long time, if I wasn’t comfortable about that, this would be a very different landscape.’ 

The International Olympic Committee revises its guidelines on transgender participation in November.

Under the previous framework, published in 2015, trans athletes were allowed to compete in the female category only if their testosterone-production was suppressed to below 10 nanomoles per litre for the 12 months before competition.

However, new guidelines removed the stipulated limit on testosterone production and instead said that individual sporting federations should decide on their eligibility criteria. It added that there should be ‘no presumption of [competitive] advantage’ on the part of a trans woman who has gone through male puberty.

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