Dalila Ali Rajah
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Trans Cyclist Stripped of Medal Accuses Sport of Transphobia

Leia Genis

A transgender woman cyclist has been stripped of a silver medal she won in the sport’s recent national championships, with officials saying she hadn’t met the requirements for competing.

Leia Genis placed second in the 3,000-meter women’s pursuit at the U.S. Elite Track Cycling National Championships, held in July in Pennsylvania, with Bethany Matsick finishing first. The following day, she says, she was told she was losing the medal and was no longer eligible to compete in the women’s category.

“6 weeks ago I was eligible for competition at UCI C1 and C2 races held at the same velodrome and overseen by the same technical director,” Genis wrote on Instagram. “Yet 6 weeks later, now that I am doing well at nationals, I am suddenly ineligible to compete. The transphobia is so blatant it’s almost laughable.

“Being a trans woman in this sport is so incredibly frustrating. Poorly communicated guidelines, restrictions and requirements that are constantly changing, lack of empathy from USA Cycling, and a peloton full of furtive whispers and sideways glances mean that even showing up to compete is an immense struggle.

“I am obviously heartbroken. I have worked my ass off to be here and I rightfully earned my silver medal. I will continue to train and race but this experience has left me disgusted and abhorred @usacycling.

“Trans women are women. Sport is a human right. I deserve the right to race.”

But now USA Cycling, the sport’s national governing body, says Genis was ineligible because she didn’t provide documentation that she met the guidelines for elite competition. She had qualified for a lower level of competition previously.

The policy for nonelite competition allows participants to simply state their gender without documentation. But trans women in elite competition must show that their plasma testosterone levels have been below 2.5 nanomoles per liter for 24 months, cycling site Road.cc reports. That policy came into effect July 1. The standard had previously been five nanomoles per liter for 12 months. The requirements are set by Union Cycliste Internationale, the international governing body. The UCI is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, which allows each sport under its jurisdiction to set policies for trans competition.

“Ms. Genis was made aware of the UCI’s Transgender Policy in March 2022 and her responsibilities in complying with this policy,” USA Cycling said in a statement to Road.cc. “At the time, Ms. Genis was participating in non-elite categories and fell under USA Cycling’s Policy VII Non-Elite Competition guidelines.”

She then upgraded to elite, and when USA Cycling officials realized she was competing in an elite event, a representative from the group reviewed her eligibility and found “she had not completed the required steps,” the statement continued. So she was removed, her results nullified, and her fees returned.

“USA Cycling supports transgender athletes’ participation in sport and was one of the first national governing bodies to adopt an inclusive transgender athlete policy,” the statement concluded.

The Advocate is seeking comment from Genis.

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