With the Arkansas legislature passing a plethora of anti-trans legislation during the past week, transgender advocates and allies have put out the call to speak out and let Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson know that these blatant attacks on a marginalized community will not stand.
In response to this open discrimination disguised as legislation, Wisconsin-based Revolution Cycles Club announced that they would be withdrawing from the 2022 UCI Cyclocross Championships in Fayetteville. And in doing so, their club statement served as a template for other sports organizations who have the courage to take the initiative and stand up for the rights of transgender Americans.
After affirming that their club promotes “diversity, equity, and access to cycling where historically people of color, LGBTQIA, and other diverse identities have been underrepresented,” Revolution Cycles Club condemned Hutchinson and the Arkansas legislature for “multiple, blatant attacks on the LGBTQ community.”
Just as importantly, the club also recognized that in order for their withdrawal to be more effective, others would have to participate. With that in mind, they issued a challenge to their sporting colleagues:
“We call on the Madison and Wisconsin cycling community, broader cycling communities, the cycling industry, and state, national, and international cycling governing bodies to affirm their policies of non-discrimination and inclusion by publicly denouncing these policies. We call on these groups to continue to inform themselves about trans athletes.”
That’s what staking a claim on the right side of history looks like. And it’s providing an example of leadership for others in the cycling and sports worlds to do the same.
On Monday, Gov. Hutchinson took a step that showed that public pressure from activists was working by vetoing House Bill 1570, which would have banned the prescription of puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgeries for transgender children under age 18. While Hutchinson showed public fealty to conservative talking points like “government overreach,” he also answered a question of how the bill potentially could have harmed trans kids by remarking, “It hurts my heart to think about that.” Lawmakers may now act to override his veto.
The actions of groups like Revolution Cycles Club are having a positive impact. However, Arkansas’ trans athlete ban and “religious conscience” exemption that allows doctors to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients remain state laws. There is still more work to be done.
Last week, managing editor Dawn Ennis wrote an op-ed calling on the NCAA to follow Major League Baseball’s civil rights lead and take decisive action against states like Arkansas that are actively oppressing transgender athletes and the trans community as a whole.
As a start, the NCAA would be wise to emulate Revolution Cycles Club. The club’s bold decision to pull out of the Fayetteville championship and their statement of unequivocal support for transgender people are what genuine allyship looks like.