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2 Apr, 2022 11:22

Blocked trans cyclist claims she has been demonized

Emily Bridges is frustrated that she has 'little clarity' on her 'alleged ineligibility'
Blocked trans cyclist claims she has been demonized

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges claims to have been "harassed and demonized" after learning she cannot compete in this weekend's National Omnium Championships.

To alleged protests from female competitors, Bridges looked set to take part in her first-ever women's event on Saturday until global governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) told British Cycling that the 21-year-old will only be allowed to compete in events where international ranking points are allocated when her eligibility to star in international championships has been confirmed. 

Bridges insists she has provided medical evidence of her validity to race as a woman, but has "little clarity" on her "alleged ineligibility".

"No-one should have to choose between being who they are and participating in the sport that they love," Bridges lamented in a social media statement.

Responding to British Cycling's statement on Wednesday where it was announced she was not "eligible to participate" in Saturday's event, Bridges said: "Despite the public announcement I still have little clarity around their finding of my ineligibility.

"I am an athlete and I just want to race competitively again. I hope that they will reconsider their decision in line with the regulations," Bridges continued. 

"I've been relentlessly harassed and demonized by those who have a specific agenda to push," Bridges added.

"They attack anything that isn't the norm. This is without care for the wellbeing of individuals or marginalized groups."

Bridges also feels that her privacy has been "totally violated" and claims to have been the victim of "targeted abuse" online, "despite the fact I have not yet raced in the female category".

Over the past six months, Bridges says, she has been in regular contact with British Cycling and the UCI over the eligibility criteria that had to be met for the National Omnium Championships.

At present, British Cycling's transgender regulations recently updated in January require trans cyclists to have maintained testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter over a 12-month period before competing.

But Bridges says that she has provided both the UCI and British Cycling with evidence that she has met the current criteria "including that my testosterone level has been far below the limit prescribed by the regulations for the last 12 months".

Bridges started undergoing hormone therapy in 2021 as part of gender dysphoria treatment and though continuing to compete in men's races, she became a provisional entry on the National Omnium Championships' women's starting list.

Cycling Weekly also say that Bridges has been participating in a Loughborough University study to track her own power data amid reduced testosterone levels, with Bridges showing a 13-16% drop in power outputs across durations of six seconds, one minute, five minutes and 20 minutes.

This week, though, UCI head David Lappartient conceded that current legislation is "probably not enough" to ensure fair competition which forced him to hold emergency talks with the leaders of other sports federations to make tougher rules on trans participation.

There were also reports that some female competitors were considering boycotting this weekend's event if she took part, and Bridges admits to receiving a mixed response when speaking publicly about transitioning though many fellow female cyclists have allegedly sent her messages of support.  

But British 800m athlete Ellie Baker has said she would "refuse to race" against Bridges and hopes "that the other women would stand with me on this too".

"This is totally unfair. The advantages a trans women has had from going through puberty as a boy to a man can never been undone," Baker tweeted.

On Thursday, Stonewall's director of programs Liz Ward protested that Bridges "hasn't been given a fair chance to compete in Saturday's race".

"It is disappointing that [the] UCI have overruled British Cycling's competition criteria, which Emily was in full compliance of," Ward went on.

"British Cycling had already extensively consulted on their trans-inclusion policy, which is fully in line with International Olympic Committee guidelines. Our thoughts are with Emily," the campaign group figure concluded.