Dear USA Cycling,
Over the last several months we have watched in shock and disappointment as bills discriminating against LGBTQ+ individuals, many of which have targeted vulnerable trans youth, have been introduced and passed in several states. The Vermont Mountain Bike Association, a collective of 7,600+ members across 27 local Chapters that build and maintain over 1,400 miles of trail, has witnessed the power trails and bikes have to build community and bring people together. At the core of our mission is fostering an inclusive and welcoming community no matter race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ability level, age, or income level.
While Vermont is considered a socially liberal state, we know and embrace the fact that we still have a lot of work to do to make cycling a more welcoming place. One thing we know for certain is that starting a conversation about building a more inclusive cycling community is impossible if a state’s laws institutionalize discrimination against under-represented groups. If members of our riding community don’t feel safe and welcome by the institutions of government, our efforts to invite the world out to ride and build will inevitably fail.
This is why we feel compelled to join the call from the broader bike community and industry for USA cycling to move the 2022 World Cyclocross Championships from Arkansas, a state that has now legalized the denial of medically-necessary services and gender-affirming care to transgender youth, and to implement criteria for future Championships that prevents them from being hosted in states with discriminatory laws on the books.
On our trails, athletes of all ages and identities train hard to achieve success, from the local Wednesday night race series to the Olympic and World Cup level. A National Championship represents the pinnacle of competition in this country. What kind of message are we sending if such events are held in a place that legally excludes trans people and attacks the basic human rights of LGBTQ+ individuals? By continuing to host this event in Arkansas, we as a cycling community are perpetuating the culture of exclusion that has not only kept trans athletes, but the broader LGBTQ+ community, from finding the joy and camaraderie many of us have come to find riding bikes.
Now is the time for us as a bike community to take a stand, say all are welcome here, and back-up our talk with actions. Please move this important event to a state that welcomes all participants, spectators, and community members.
Nick Bennette, VMBA Executive Director
VMBA Board of Directors