The mother of transgender cyclist Emily Bridges has commented on British Cycling's treatment of her daughter, simply saying "dumped by email", after the national governing body's decision to suspend its transgender policy pending review of the current system.
Yesterday, British Cycling released a statement saying the current system is "unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing", and announcing they have suspended the transgender and non-binary participation policy.
> British Cycling suspends transgender policy pending review of current system as falllout from Emily Bridges case continues
The decision came a week after the UCI's decision to bar Bridges from competing at the women's British Omnium Championship, her first race as a woman. British Cycling had initially cleared the 21-year-old to race due to her testosterone levels being sufficiently low.
However, amid a backdrop of riders reportedly ready to boycott the event, British Cycling said Bridges could not compete because of the UCI's intervention.
In reaction to the news of the suspended transgender policy, Sandy Sullivan, Emily's mother posted on social media saying the national governing body had dumped her daughter by email.
Member of Scottish Parliament Karen Adam was one of the many to reply to the tweet, saying: "History will judge. Statements from orgs [organisations] like these are going to be the thing of shame and embarrassment to look back on."
> Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges breaks silence to question "alleged ineligibility"
The largest network of LGBTQIA+ cyclists in the UK, PRiDE OUT, then released a statement accusing British Cycling of "bending to political pressure and cowing to the transphobic gender-critical movement".
PRiDE OUT strongly believes in the inclusion of all trans people in cycling. Today's shocking and disappointing announcement from British Cycling appears to be bending to political pressure and cowing to the transphobic gender-critical movement.
British Cycling's decision to immediately suspend their current trans and non-binary participation policy, due to it being a fast-moving area of sports policy and scientific research doesn't appear to make much sense. Assuming they have been in contact with the centres of excellence researching trans performance in sport, based at Loughborough and Brighton Universities, it raises the question where is the alleged fast-moving science coming from?
When British Cycling launched its first transgender and non-binary participation policy in October 2020, it was celebrated as 'establishing the requirements for enabling participation and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment in cycling at all levels'. The policy was reviewed six months later, and following a comprehensive eight-month consultation period, a further update was issued in January 2022.
Simultaneously, in February 2021, British Cycling appointed a 12-strong panel of external members to form an external Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group to hold British Cycling to account on matters like this. Therefore we are presuming they must have been consulted on the policy, and somehow collectively given their approval.
Why are we now in a situation where trans people appear to be banned from racing at an elite level in cycling, indefinitely? It also seems to put a question mark over the small number of trans people who are already participating in cycling sport, at non-elite level.
In a later tweet, PRiDE OUT added: "It does make you wonder if there is ingrained prejudice from some quarters of large cycling institutions."
Boris Johnson joined the discussion this week, saying he does not "think that biological males should be competing in female sporting events".
Admitting it was not an issue he expected to "consider in great detail", the Prime Minister said: "I don’t think that biological males should be competing in female sporting events. And maybe that’s a controversial thing, but it just seems to me to be sensible."
Johnson's comments came on the same day the head of British Cycling's Olympic and Paralympic programme signed a letter calling on the UCI to tighten its rules on allowing tansgender cyclists to compete in women's events.
The letter addressed to UCI president David Lappartient was signed by "a group of retired Olympians, elite cyclists, scientists, researchers, and supporters of female cycling sport who wish to express our deep regret that it took a crisis situation to get us to the point where the UCI has admitted that rule 13.5.015 is ‘probably not enough’."
Last weekend, Team GB's 2008 Olympic gold medallist Nicole Cooke called on a separate category for transgender athletes, while retired pro Pippa York criticised the "toxic environment" surrounding the Bridges' case, including "endless talk about trans women invading sport, taking girls’ places, erasing them, denying them a future… Framed as concerns, fairness, safety."
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