Male-to-female trans professional cyclist, Emily Bridges has blasted the sport’s governing body in a lengthy stand-off after it ruled she would be unable to compete in women’s races.
Bridges, 21, insisted she can prove she would have no advantage over her biologically female rivals if she was allowed to compete.
In march, cycling’s world governing body, the UCI banned Bridges from competing in the British national omnium championships at the last minute as other competitors threatened to pull out of the race.
The race would have seen Bridges come up against five-time Olympic champion, Laura Kenny, leading many to question whether the biological man would have been able to beat her. Bridges had enjoyed some success competing against men, having set a junior men’s record and won a men’s point race at the British University’s championship a month before.
In an interview with DIVA magazine, Bridges vented her frustration at not being allowed to race against women, insisting that she could prove she would have no advantage against those who were born female:
“I understand how you’d come to this conclusion because a lot of people still view trans women as men with male anatomies and physiologies,” she said.
A trans female cyclist in the UK, Emily Bridges, has been barred from competing in the national championships this weekend, after a number of female riders threatened to pull out. Emily previously held the UK national junior men's record over 25 miles. pic.twitter.com/hWgbW1APLw
— WTF Facts (@mrwtffacts) March 31, 2022
“But hormone replacement therapy has such a massive effect. The aerobic performance difference is gone after about four months.
“There are studies going on for trans women in sport. I’m doing one and the performance drop-off that I’ve seen is massive. I don’t have any advantage over my competitors and I’ve got data to back that up.”
Although Bridges had met the cycling body’s previous requirement which stated that all competitors in its races must have a testosterone level below five nanomoles, British Cycling has since announced it is reviewing its policies to “find a better answer”.
Bridge’s involvement in the sport sparked fury among her female competitors, many of whom are concerned that allowing a biological man who went through male puberty would put them at an unfair disadvantage.
Two-time Olympic champion Katie Archibald criticized the UCI’s initial handling of Bridges. Last month, she made a statement in which she expressed her concern that “the retained advantage of people who have gone through male puberty in strength, stamina and physique with or without testosterone suppression is well documented”.
British Cycling’s head of Olympic programmers, Sara Symington agreed that the sport should not allow biological men to compete with women, so that competitions could “guarantee fairness for female athletes”.
Despite the fight to keep the sport fair, Bridges said she believes that one day trans athletes will be welcome to compete against biological women, and blamed “populist movements” for singling trans people out:
“There’s so much hate and criticism that I just don’t look at it. I know it is happening and I try to have that drive me, but that’s easier said than done,” she whined+.
“We’re the current punching bag populist movements like to go for. We are, at the moment, who the culture war is against.
“Things will get better. It’s not going to be like this forever. The evidence shows that it is fair for trans women to compete in female sport. It might take a few years for things to change, but just keep going.”
Unfortunately, with the way the world’s going today, she’s probably right. It won’t be long until we all have to wave a farewell to women’s sport as we know it.