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Trans Cyclist Emily Bridges Banned From Competing In National Championships Event

Trans Cyclist Emily Bridges Banned From Competing In National Championships Event

The 21-year-old athlete was set to compete against five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny

Trans cyclist Emily Bridges has been banned from competing in the National Omnium Championships on Saturday, 2 April, after a governing body decided she’s not eligible for the female category. 

Earlier this year, the organiser of the event, British Cycling, updated its policy on transgender and non-binary participants, where it announced it would maintain the rule that testosterone levels remain the primary method of determining which members are eligible to compete in the male and female categories.

Bridges met the requirements after starting hormone therapy last year, having lowered her testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for 12 consecutive months.

However, the 21-year-old athlete will not be able to compete against five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny at the event as the international governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has ruled her ineligible.

In a statement published this week, British Cycling said: “Under the British Cycling Transgender and Non-Binary Participation policy, Emily Bridges was due to participate in the British National Omnium Championships on Saturday 2nd April. We have now been informed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) that under their current guidelines Emily is not eligible to participate in this 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. We acknowledge the decision of the UCI with regards to Emily’s participation, however we fully recognise her disappointment with today’s decision.”

The organisation went on to say that transgender and non-binary inclusion is ‘bigger than one race and one athlete’, describing it as a ‘challenge for all elite sports’. 

“We believe all participants within our sport deserve more clarity and understanding around participation in elite competitions and we will continue to work with the UCI on both Emily’s case and the wider situation with regards to this issue,” it wrote. 

“We also understand that in elite sports the concept of fairness is essential. For this reason, British Cycling is today calling for a coalition to share, learn and understand more about how we can achieve fairness in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes.”

Swimmer Lia Thomas.

The decision arrives amid debates surrounding transgender eligibility in sports, with talks focusing heavily on swimmer Lia Thomas’s dominance since joining the University of Pennsylvania’s women's team.

Thomas became the first openly transgender athlete to win the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) swimming championship earlier this month, 17 March, as a result of her success in the women's 500 yard (457m) freestyle race.

The race marked the 22-year-old's final competition as a college athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, though the win prompted complaints from some who argue the result was unfair due to Thomas's transition, which she began in 2019 with hormone replacement therapy.

However, data presented by The Independent indicates she did not have any specific advantage over cisgender competitors, with her swim times proving entirely in-keeping with those held by other female swimmers.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers 

Featured Image Credit: ITV News/Alamy

Topics: Sport, LGBTQ