Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges says she has been ‘demonised’ after not being allowed to compete

Emily Bridges says she has “little clarity” over why the UCI has deemed her ineligible for the National Omnium Championships in Derby this weekend; 21-year-old says she has “been relentlessly harassed and demonised by those who have a specific agenda to push”

Last Updated: 01/04/22 10:16pm

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges says she has been ‘harassed and demonised’ after being prevented from racing at the National Omnium Championship this weekend

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges says she has been “harassed and demonised” after being prevented from racing in a women’s event.

Bridges had been due to race against the likes of five-time Olympic gold medallist Dame Laura Kenny in Derby this weekend during the National Omnium Championships.

It would have marked the 21-year-old’s first race in the female category – but British Cycling announced earlier this week that governing body UCI had ruled her ineligible.

It is understood that although British Cycling accepted she had met the requirements – current transgender regulations require riders to have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to competition – the UCI has not yet granted her switch in licence.

Writing on social media, Bridges said: “Despite the public announcement, I still have little clarity around their finding of my ineligibility under their regulations.

“I am an athlete, and I just want to race competitively again, within the regulations set by British Cycling and UCI after careful consideration of the research around transgender athletes.

“I hope that they will reconsider their decision in line with the regulations.

“No one should have to choose between being who they are and participating in the sport they love.

Bridges was due to race five-time Olympic cycling champion Dame Laura Kenny (pictured) at Saturday's event

Bridges was due to race five-time Olympic cycling champion Dame Laura Kenny (pictured) at Saturday’s event

“As is no surprise with most of the British media, I’ve been relentlessly harassed and demonised by those who have a specific agenda to push.

“They attack anything that isn’t the norm and print whatever is most likely to result in the highest engagement for their articles and bring in advertising.

“This is without care for the wellbeing of individuals or marginalised groups and others are left to pick up the pieces due to their actions.”

Bridges came out as a transgender woman in October 2020 and continued to compete as a male during her transition, winning the men’s points race at the British Universities’ championships in February.

In 2018, Bridges set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles, registering a time which was two minutes faster than any senior female rider has delivered before or since.

Bridges said she had remained in contact with British Cycling and the UCI and was seeking an answer on her eligibility.

Coming Out: Emily Bridges’ transgender journey

Emily Bridges first came out in an interview with Sky Sports back in October 2020, in which she opened up on her journey so far as an elite cyclist.

Opening up on her hopes for the future, she said: “There’s such a long way to go in making sport, specifically cycling, more inclusive. We need to encourage more people from BAME backgrounds, more women, disabled people and LGBTQ+ people into cycling. It’s still seen as the domain of white, middle-aged, middle-class men, and it needs to represent the wider population much better, and be more accessible.

“I hope that I can be a small part of changing the culture for the better and encourage people in the sporting world to fully be themselves. I also want to show that people shouldn’t have to choose between being themselves and doing the sport that they love. Sport has to be for everyone, regardless of who they are.

“I know that people will have questions about fairness. I feel I have an opportunity to show that the existing eligibility rules for trans athletes in competition are appropriate.

“Whatever level I’m riding at, I have such a passion for the sport that I love. Ultimately, I want to try to be the best possible athlete and individual I can be.

“For those that know me, I’m still the same person. The difference is that now I’m being more true to myself. I hope that by sharing the story of my coming out, it helps someone else out there to be true too.”

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