Emily Bridges, a transgender cyclist who has not raced in her previous life as male, will race for the U.S. women’s national omnium team at this year’s UCI Track Cycling World Cup on Saturday and hopes to break barriers with them next month at the world championships in Hong Kong.,
Emily Bridges previously achieved a national junior men’s record over a distance of 25 kilometers and was chosen to join British Cycling’s elite academy in 2019.
After a judgement by cycling’s international governing body, transgender cyclist Emily Bridges will not race in Saturday’s National Omnium Championships, which will be her first women’s event.
The 21-year-old seemed to be in line to compete against some of the sport’s greatest stars, including Laura Kenny, a five-time Olympic winner.
“We have now been advised by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) that Emily is not qualified to compete in this race under their present standards,” British Cycling said in a statement on Wednesday.
Bridges started hormone therapy last year as part of her gender dysphoria treatment and, as a result of decreased testosterone levels, is now allowed to participate in women’s competitions.
She was 43rd out of 45 riders in the top men’s criterium at the Loughborough Cycling Festival in May 2021, and she was second to last in the Welsh National Championship road race in September, a 12-kilometer lap behind the winner.
Bridges won a men’s points race at the British Universities Championships in Glasgow earlier this month, which was her last men’s event.
Transgender cyclists must have testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period before to compete, according to British Cycling’s transgender standards.
“We’ve had extensive conversations with the UCI about Emily’s participation this weekend, as well as with Emily and her family about her transition and participation in elite races,” British Cycling stated.
“We respect the UCI’s decision on Emily’s participation, but we understand Emily’s displeasure with today’s outcome.”
“Transgender and non-binary inclusion is an issue for all top sports, not just one race or one athlete.”
Sport has reached out to the UCI for comment on their decision, but they have yet to answer.
Lia Thomas, a transgender collegiate swimmer from the United States, won the 500-yard freestyle and placed fifth and eighth in other events in the NCAA Championships earlier this month.
Thomas was supported by an open letter signed by 300 swimmers, including opponent Erica Sullivan, but she was also opposed by another competitor, Hungary’s Reka Gyorgy, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
When asked about the situation, World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe said that the “purity” of women’s athletics was in jeopardy and that its future was “fragile.”
Coe also urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to enact rules that would apply to all sports, insisting that “gender cannot overcome biology.”
British Cycling has also asked for a multi-sport coalition to “find a better solution,” including governing bodies, athletes, the transgender and non-binary athlete community, and the government.
“We also recognize that the principle of fairness is critical in top sports,” it said.
“As a result, British Cycling is launching a coalition today to share, learn, and understand more about how we can achieve justice while preserving the dignity and respect of all athletes.”
Former Great Britain Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies, who has chastised British Cycling for allowing Bridges to compete in the women’s race at first, claimed the governing body had “thrown female cyclists under the PC bus.”
She tweeted, “Time for actual female athlete equality of opportunity in cycling.” “Develop better methods to be inclusive (which is something we all desire).”
Tonia Antoniazzi, a Labour MP, stated in the House of Commons on Wednesday that the government needs to have “urgent discussions” with British Cycling about their transgender inclusion policy.
The president of the UCI is concerned about competition fairness.
UCI president David Lappartient told Sport shortly before British Cycling’s declaration that he was “worried” that transgender athletes would undermine the fairness of competition in cycling.
Lappartient said in an interview earlier on Wednesday that the guidelines governing allowed testosterone levels in transgender athletes are “definitely not enough.”
However, he went on to say that the governing organization “completely recognizes the rights of transgender athletes to participate in sport.”
“We absolutely recognize people’s rights to change and make that transition,” said Lappartient, who was speaking broadly about the subject and not specifically about Bridges’ situation.
The rights of transgender cyclists are officially recognized by the UCI president.
“I’m concerned that [their involvement in women’s competitions] may skew the competition’s fairness.” I feel that the current scenario, in which five nanomoles per litre are used to quantify testosterone levels, is insufficient.
“When I chat with certain medical professors and professionals, they say, ‘yeah, your body probably already has a recollection of who you are, therefore there may be some benefits.’
“Is there, however, a recollection from your previous body – and if so, do you have an advantage? Is it a level-playing field bridge?”
When British Cycling amended its regulations on transgender cyclists in January, it ruled that trans athletes must have testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a year in order to compete against women.
Depending on age and time of day, men have between 10 and 30 nanomoles per litre. According to the NHS, a young healthy male’s testosterone level would vary from 20 to 30, whilst a female’s range will be 0.7 to 2.8.
Lappartient told Sport Sports on Wednesday that several female riders had expressed concerns to the UCI about competitive fairness and “do not accept” the present regulations.