ON the final day of the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow yesterday, a gathering of transgender people and cisgender allies lined parts of the city’s streets to draw attention to who would not be competing in the day’s races.

One month earlier, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) had ruled transgender women would effectively be barred from participating in any women’s race on the UCI calendar in perpetuity. Instead, they would be forced to race in the men’s category … or not at all.

This decision reflects a dark trend in sporting bodies. The British Athletics Association, British Cycling, World Aquatics, World Rugby, World Athletics and the British Rowing Association have announced similar policies and restrictions on the inclusion of transgender people in sport.

In time, I believe this will be regarded as a bleak stain on the history of each and every one of these institutions, a discriminatory decision based not on evidence but appeasement.

After all, if transgender people truly represented such a threat to fairness in sport, shouldn’t there be countless examples of us storming our way en masse to gold medals and prize podiums with little resistance, rather than just the imagined threat of such? And with regards to the science of what constitutes an unfair advantage for transgender women having gone through “male puberty”, the results are actually pretty inconclusive.

Meta-analyses of peer-reviewed studies in this area actually show there just isn’t enough data to attempt to justify the exclusion of trans women from competitive sports.

For many raised in a culture as rooted in sexism as the UK is, this will seem counterintuitive. It’s for this reason that the topic of transgender inclusion in sport is a reactionary’s wet dream, particularly for those who already hold a warped view on the bodies of transgender people. Anti-trans activists will discard the evidence and instead home in on a perceived unfairness at the heart of this issue because they know it is an emotive subject that leads people to snap judgments.

Fairness in sport is something we all want. The concept of “fair play” is often viewed as an integral part of the values that define these islands. But the nuance required in how we discuss this is entirely absent.

With all the grace of a sledgehammer, anti-trans activists have gleefully hoisted the issue of fairness in sport into the spotlight because it is a subject that, despite having almost no bearing on the lives of most people living in Scotland, still evokes a deeply emotive reaction. And in turn, it is used to justify further encroachments on the lives of transgender people, whether they enjoy taking part in a sport or not.

To believe transgender women will immediately dominate in whatever professional sport they deign to give a go is to do a great disservice to the cis female athletes who work and train so hard to excel in their field; it is a manifestation of the same everyday sexism that makes one in eight British men believe they could actually win a point from tennis great Serena Williams. Though I for one would pay a reasonable ticket price to watch her destroy the fragile egos of those who would dare try.

Bizarrely, I’ve seen this same ideology stretch into the electronic sporting world too, as if women are too fragile to even handle a video game controller without being at a disadvantage. There are huge issues facing female inclusion in sport at a professional level – but it isn’t transgender people who are blocking the path. The evidence shows social factors – such as chronic underfunding for female athletes and base discrimination – contribute far more significantly to performance disadvantages.

If anti-trans activists had shown any interest in addressing these problems before suddenly declaring themselves the great saviours of women’s sport, I’d have more reason to believe this was anything other than another shameless opportunity to further ostracise trans people.

Trans people raise questions about the world we live in, and the odd structures that govern it.

Our existence challenges many strongly-held views of the world. The role of trans people in sports SHOULD be raising questions; questions about why we have structured sports in such a segregated manner – questions about funding allocations; questions about how much of perceived differences in ability are grounded in fact.

For example, wouldn’t moving to a system of weight classes, like in boxing, make more sense than the segregated approach currently in play? The sporting bodies who found it easier to ban trans women than to truly examine the foundations of their own organisations took the easy option.

And it was a decision that has not been overlooked by Glasgow’s queer community. While activists gathered, Leap Sports Scotland hosted a solidarity cycle in response to the UCI’s policy which they describe as “disproportionate, discriminatory and lacking in evidence”.

In a statement from the Glasgow Trans Rally group, organisers noted that: “These bans are not relevant only to athletes or sport enthusiasts. These policies are symptomatic of a wider hostility towards trans people and their systematic exclusion globally and in the UK.”

They concluded: “Allowing these policies to pass without challenge will embolden others to push their anti-trans rhetoric.”

It is to the detriment of all female athletes that a moral panic has been used to conceal the real barriers women face in accessing sport.