Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges banned from National Omnium Championships

Cycling

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges will not compete in her first women’s event at the National Omnium Championships, after a ruling by cycling’s world governing body. 

Bridges began hormone therapy last year as part of her gender dysphoria treatment and now has testosterone levels low enough to compete in women’s events. 

However, British Cycling said in a statement on Wednesday that the Union Cycliste Internationale had judged that under their guidelines, Bridges was not eligible to participate in the event. 

“We have been in close discussions with the UCI regarding Emily’s participation this weekend and have also engaged closely with Emily and her family regarding her transition and involvement in elite competitions,” British Cycling said.

“We acknowledge the decision of the UCI with regards to Emily’s participation, however, we fully recognise her disappointment with today’s decision.

“Transgender and non-binary inclusion is bigger than one race and one athlete – it is a challenge for all elite sports.”

Who is Bridges?

Bridges is a 21-year-old trans athlete, who started cycling in 2010, aged just nine. 

In May 2021, she finished 43rd out of 45 riders in the elite men’s criterium at the Loughborough Cycling Festival and in September she came second last in the Welsh National Championship road race. 

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Bridges said racing in women’s events was always the plan. 

“After starting hormone therapy I didn’t want to race in the male category any more than I had to – obviously, it sucks, getting dropped, racing as a man when you’re not one. It was quickly apparent that was the wrong category for me.

“By the summer of 2020, I’d fallen out of love with the sport. I couldn’t live like that anymore – I couldn’t be my true self.”

Transgender athlete controversy continues

Bridges is not the first trans athlete to make headlines of late. 

Earlier this month, US college transgender swimmer Lia Thomas competed in the NCAA Championships and won the 500-yard freestyle. 

Thomas was supported by an open letter from 300 swimmers but also faced backlash from some of her fellow competitors, including Hungary’s Reka Gyorgy.

World Athletics President Lord Sebastien Coe called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to introduce regulations that can be applied across every sport and insisted “gender cannot trump biology”.

Other British athletes have their say 

Ellie Baker, a British 800m runner, took to Twitter to express her thoughts on the Bridges case. 

“How this has been allowed to happen is just ridiculous,” she said. “I would refuse to race and hope that the other women would stand with me on this too. This is totally unfair. The advantages a trans woman has had from going through puberty as a boy to a man can never be undone.”

Similarly, Emily Diamond, Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth medallist in 400m, agreed with Baker and wrote: “I totally agree with you. Hormone therapy cannot take away the advantages a body gains by going through male puberty. Women aren’t just men with lower testosterone.”

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