My life as a non-binary rider in the world of competitive cycling

My life as a non-binary rider in the world of competitive cycling

In the binary world of competitive cycling, Cycling UK Pumped Up Crew member Freddie, who identifies as non-binary and Queer, has found it a tricky path to navigate. They tell us how they're hoping to be the voice of change on International Transgender Day of Visibility, Wednesday 31 March

About me

I'm now 35 and have been cycling since I was a child, it's always been my way of getting around - I didn't learn to drive until I was 24 - and an enjoyable way of getting out and about. I also cycle to work when I can and just enjoy being out in the countryside. Occasionally, I also compete in triathlons. I came out as non-binary in 2019, having realised that my gender sat outside of the binary for a while, but being unsure what 'label' I wanted to use. 

Being a non-binary competitive cyclist

On Strava, I can identify outside of the standard male/female categories, which is great, although it immediately takes me out of the leader boards, or comparisons on segments other than 'all participants', but that is fine most of the time.

However, I am finding that I'm choosing races based on their ability to offer me a chance to race in my correct gender. This is because I've come across some really rude marshals at races when I've had to 'choose' a binary sex to race under (it depends on my mood how I decide which one), and have been aggressively challenged about it when I've been to get my race numbers/times.

This has then meant I've felt unsafe or anxious, which has knocked my confidence. Now I try and choose races where the option to race by gender not sex is given, so I can race as non-binary and not Male or Female.

My participation in any future cycling races, as I'm considering including these alongside triathlons, will be based on whether or not I can choose to race outside of a defined sex category, and if there are a range of possible gender options.  

So many people in the Trans and gender non-conforming community feel isolated from competitive sports because they are being asked their sex (biology) rather than gender: often these are interchangeable on a form but they are very distinctly different

Freddie Watson Stubbs

The voice of change

I'm keen to start using my voice and new understanding of inclusivity in sport to begin to challenge events and organisations to become inclusive for all; unless you are racing at a competitive elite level event, which I appreciate may require the use of sex grouping, there is no reason why you cannot allow people to race under gender, rather than sex.

So many people in the Trans and gender non-conforming community feel isolated from competitive sports because they are being asked their sex (biology) rather than gender: often these are interchangeable on a form but they are very distinctly different.

I'm planning to use my experiences to begin to challenge and support the inclusion of additional categories to allow us to race and still be identified correctly. I will never be able to represent my country in sport, but hopefully I can support grassroots engagement and begin to create an inclusive arena for future generations to be involved in sports. 

Starting the conversation 

Cycling generally is an inclusive activity. However, when it comes to competitive events, including options for the correct titles (at the moment they don't include Mx), pronouns, and genders, rather than relying on the out-of-date 'sex' Male/Female markers, would mean that more Trans and gender non-confirming people would feel safe to sign up to events and groups.

It would also be useful if event organisers could explain why they might need to know the sex of someone, as this would help us to know how they might use our data and, in most cases, allow people to opt out of this if they don't want to be included in the leader boards/elite level competitions. 

Starting that conversation would be incredibly valuable to all. 

Cycling UK's support of Rainbow Laces

I found out about Cycling UK through its support of Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign last year. I've followed Stonewall for years as I'm a keen supporter of LGBTQ charities/organisations and identify as Queer (sexuality); it is important to have representation for all of us, especially within the world of sport.

Anything that continues the conversation about inclusion and supporting those groups that may feel like they cannot participate in sport at any level is welcome, and showing support by wearing our laces is another step in the right direction. 

Get in touch

Have you got a story about cycling and inclusion? If so, Cycling UK would love to hear from you so do get in touch

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