Thursday, May 26, 2022

British transgender cyclist ruled ineligible to compete as woman ahead of British National Omnium Championship

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A British transgender cyclist has been denied entry into this weekend’s British National Omnium Championship after the sport’s governing body ruled her ineligible. Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said Emily Bridges, who is currently registered as a male cyclist, cannot compete in women’s events until her registration expires. 

Bridges came out as transgender in 2020 and began hormone therapy last year.  The 21-year-old has competed in men’s events throughout that time, and she won her final competition as a man – a men’s points race at the British Universities’ championships in Glasgow – in February. 

This weekend’s race, one in which five-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny is competing, would’ve been Bridges’ first as a woman. 

In a statement following UCI’s decision, British Cycling said it “fully” recognizes Bridges’ disappointment. Per the rules of British Cycling and UCI, Bridges should be allowed to compete as a woman because her testosterone has lowered to the required level. 

“We believe that transgender and non-binary people should be able to find a home, feel welcome and included, and be celebrated in our sport,” British Cycling’s statement read. “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.

“Transgender and non-binary inclusion is bigger than one race and one athlete – it is a challenge for all elite sports.” 

The Bridges news comes two weeks after University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously competed on UPenn’s men’s team, became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship in the 500-yard freestyle. 

Thomas’ win sparked fierce debate about transgender women’s athletic participation, even prompting World Athletics president Sebastian Coe to question the future of women’s sports. 

“The integrity of women’s sport if we don’t get this right, and actually the future of women’s sport, is very fragile,” Coe said

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