Looking to provide access to programming and facilities where all individuals can feel comfortable and safe regardless of their gender identity and gender expression led the Saskatchewan Cycling Association to produce a transgender inclusion policy in 2019.
“We wanted to be able to start selling race licenses for male, female or unspecified,” said Sarah Honeysett, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Cycling Association. “And we thought with that, if we’re offering unspecified licenses, we should also be offering just some guidance to everyone about how it all ties together and how we want everyone to be treated with Sask Cycling.”
The three-page document, drafted with the assistance of Moose Jaw Pride, explains the purpose for the policy, guidelines for racer eligibility and the principles used to help guide the Association in the drafting and applying the policy. It also gives a set of definitions, as well as actions that Sask Cycling can take to create inclusion both in and out of competition. Those actions include offering training and educational opportunities for staff and coaches, maintaining organizational documents and website that promote inclusive language and images, advocating for inclusive facilities and more.
“We want everyone to be able to express themselves however they wish to be expressed and we want to create a welcoming environment to be able to have more people in cycling,” said Honeysett. “And so, we’re hoping by creating a policy, people might look at that and say ‘Hey, I fit in that, I want to try that out.’”
“I think policies like this are extremely important in sport overall. Just because you don’t fit in one box, that shouldn’t mean you can’t participate in sport. We want you out to our sport regardless of how you identify.”
Having the unspecified category helps to create that environment, but there are still some barriers when it comes to putting that category into practice. While athletes —including those at the recreational, competitive and high-performance levels— can select the unspecified category within Canada for provincial and general memberships there are usually not enough racers to compete in the category. This leaves those athletes who have selected an unspecified membership with the option to compete against others only by entering a male or female race.
Additionally, once athletes reach the international level, there is no unspecified category, so at that point, racers must also choose to compete in either a male or female race. Both barriers are areas that Honeysett hopes can be changed in the future.
“It would be great if you didn’t even need to claim anything, you come in and you’re just welcome,” she said. “And I’d like to see that across cycling and across all sport as well.”
But transgender inclusion policies and other changes that make it so athletes don’t have to conform to a specific category are a step in the right direction, according to Honeysett, and helps to create more opportunities not only for cycling by across all sport.
“I think policies like this are extremely important in sport overall,” she said. “Just because you don’t fit in one box, that shouldn’t mean you can’t participate in sport. We want you out to our sport regardless of how you identify.”