Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges has been banned from competing in a women’s event this weekend after the governing body ruled that she was not eligible.
Bridges, 21, was set to compete in a women’s event at the British National Omnium Championships, going up against five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny.
On Wednesday, cycling’s international governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), informed British officials that Bridges was not eligible to participate in the event under its current regulations.
Bridges, who set a national junior men’s record in 2018, began hormone therapy in 2021 to reduce testosterone levels.
UCI ruled that Bridges could not compete because the cyclist was still registered as a male.
British Cycling issued the following statement: “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 recognize her disappointment with today’s decision,” the statement continued.
After Bridges came out as trans in October of 2020, the cyclist continued to race against men last year because British Cycling’s policy specifies that trans competitors must meet a certain testosterone level for at least 12 months before competing in female events.
As a result, Bridges could not compete in a women’s event until this year. She was scheduled to race at the women’s British National Omnium Championships on Saturday in her first female event.
Bridges finished 43rd out of 45 riders in the men’s crit at the Loughborough Cycling Festival last May. In September, she finished second to last place at the Welsh National Championship road race.
According to the BBC, Bridges won a men’s points race at the British Universities’ championships in Glasgow in February. It was the cyclist’s final men’s race.
In an interview with Cycling Weekly, Bridges addressed concerns from opponents of trans athletes competing in gender-specific sports.
Bridges said people tended to argue about “factors like height, which change very little with hormone therapy.” Bridges is quite tall at 6’2″ but acknowledged that “some of the best riders are quite short.”
Compared to other competitors, the cyclist stated a disadvantage, having “a much-reduced engine” due to hormone therapy.
Ultimately, Bridges wants to compete in women’s events and “have a good time.”
The ban on Bridges this week is another controversial discussion of trans athletes in organized sports.
When males reach puberty, they begin producing considerable amounts of testosterone. It increases strength, endurance, power, size, and muscle mass, with less fat and bigger and denser bones.
Testosterone accounts for the distinction between male and female athletic performance. That difference resulted in women’s sports being created in the first place.
In an interview regarding trans athletes, Former director of the USA Olympic Training Center in California, Craig Poole, said, “Any athlete who has gone through puberty as a male has permanent advantages.”