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"Dumped by email": Mother of transgender cyclist Emily Bridges speaks out after British Cycling decision to suspend trans policy

UK's largest network of LGBTQIA+ cyclists PRiDE OUT accuses British Cycling of "bending to political pressure and cowing to the transphobic gender-critical movement"...

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."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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78 comments

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Jimwill | 1 year ago
0 likes

Is he still allowed to race other men?

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mdavidford replied to Jimwill | 1 year ago
1 like
Jimwill wrote:

Is he still allowed to race other men?

Who? Boris Johnson, or David Lappartient?

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wtjs | 1 year ago
1 like

And Nicole Cooke is still right!

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FrankH | 2 years ago
6 likes

Martina Navratolova gave an interview recently, she was talking about Lia Thomas but also about transgender rights generally. Here it is on YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lsl73twV1ZM

At about the 4 minute mark she suggests having an open category for everybody and onother category for biological females, something I've been saying for a while now (not that anybody takes any notice of me) but I'm glad that somebody in the public eye is making sensible suggestions.

Men shouldn't be competing against women, we have an unfair advantage.

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Sriracha replied to FrankH | 2 years ago
5 likes

This has been suggested several times. It does not address the issue, it's just a fudge. The issue is that transwomen ARE women, at least in their view. If there is a women's category then they want to be in it, obviously. Anything less impugns their identity. You can have your open category as well if you wish, but the issue remains unaddressed.

Any solution that has a women's category which excludes transwomen hits the same problem. So the only other solution is to not have a women's category, remove sex from the categorisation altogether, and maybe use some formula based on age, height, weight, whatever.

So now transwomen are not excluded from the women's category because there is no women's category from which to exclude them. However they lose the prize they sought - to be seen as women. What I call the dog-in-the-manger solution.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
1 like

I wouldn't say this is the "prize" per se - it's more if you're going to have categories based in gender, excluding people who are that gender is never going to loook good. 

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sparrowlegs replied to nosferatu1001 | 2 years ago
4 likes

Gender or sex? They are 2 different things remember. People keep conflating the 2. 

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chrisonabike replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
1 like

Not wanting to set everyone off again but it would seem that the men's side of it isn't an issue (men / trans men) then?  Or is this a tongue-in-cheek way of letting others see that this idea must lead to no "sex / gender" - based categories (yes - I think this is still being confused here) and thus as you suggest removing the thing that was being contested entirely?

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Sriracha replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
3 likes

Well, yes, but not really so tongue in cheek.

Transwomen and women both say the same thing, they should compete against women only. Logically that requires everyone to believe that transwomen are women. You can't force someone to believe an article of faith. The only solution is to eliminate the category of women.

You might say that leaves men and others, but that remains open to a charge from transmen, either that they are being discriminated against by being categorised as other than men, or that they are denied the right to participate competitively. So out with the category of men.

With the slate wiped clear, you then build a new category system based on some other parameters which don't impinge upon anyone's beliefs about sex or gender. At least, until someone contests those parameters.

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FrankH replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
4 likes
Sriracha wrote:

With the slate wiped clear, you then build a new category system based on some other parameters which don't impinge upon anyone's beliefs about sex or gender. At least, until someone contests those parameters.

OK. With a clean slate: two categories for competition:
!. Open. I.e. anybody can take part. Men women, transmen, transwomen and all the 57+ varieties I've missed out.
2. XX. I.e. only those with XX chromosomes can take part.

Remember, the reason we have women's sport at all is to level the playing field.

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hawkinspeter replied to FrankH | 2 years ago
1 like
FrankH wrote:
Sriracha wrote:

With the slate wiped clear, you then build a new category system based on some other parameters which don't impinge upon anyone's beliefs about sex or gender. At least, until someone contests those parameters.

OK. With a clean slate: two categories for competition:
!. Open. I.e. anybody can take part. Men women, transmen, transwomen and all the 57+ varieties I've missed out.
2. XX. I.e. only those with XX chromosomes can take part.

Remember, the reason we have women's sport at all is to level the playing field.

Will option 2 include men with Klinefelter syndrome (i.e. XXY chromosomes)?

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nosferatu1001 replied to FrankH | 2 years ago
2 likes
FrankH wrote:
Sriracha wrote:

With the slate wiped clear, you then build a new category system based on some other parameters which don't impinge upon anyone's beliefs about sex or gender. At least, until someone contests those parameters.

OK. With a clean slate: two categories for competition:
!. Open. I.e. anybody can take part. Men women, transmen, transwomen and all the 57+ varieties I've missed out.
2. XX. I.e. only those with XX chromosomes can take part.

Remember, the reason we have women's sport at all is to level the playing field.

the main reason we have "womens sport" is becsuse women were excluded from the sports when they were first set up, so a crude binary split was sort-of ok to set up once society advanced to the point that excluding women was no longer something desirable to the majority 

Your crude o-level/gcse understanding of sex as being chromosome based is just that - crude. It's pretty damned inaccurate as a means of drawing a line between competitors. 

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efail replied to FrankH | 2 years ago
1 like

I'm happy to be corrected on this. I don't think that the 5 (units of testosterone) is a number that was meant to be taken as the level at which someone could participate in women's sport. It seems that much of the argument is focussing on this number. I thought that number was taken, by some expert or another, because someone somewhere would need a reference number to say 'you can be classed as a woman' not necessarily a 'sportswoman'.  Anyone know the answer?

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CXR94Di2 | 2 years ago
8 likes

Hooray for real women's sport.

A man who has had a sex change still has the muscularity of a man for a considerable period

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capedcrusader | 2 years ago
2 likes

British Cycling caved at the first oportunity even though Bridges appeared to have folllowed their rules for eligibility to race. In my opinion this is disgraceful. 

 Its the flippin job of governing to look after athletes welfare and BC have failed miserably in this case. Their actions are shocking and BC have been exposed for the spineless, heartless and selfish souls they are.

BC had plenty of reviews when coming up with the regulations for eligibility when they decided the rules. At the first sight of pressure they caved to public and private pressure. They should have said they would review the situation AFTER Bridges was allowed to compete. 

Other posters have pointed out many LGBTQ+ people are subject to ridicule, bullying and worse, and BC through their actions are complicit in the latter.

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nosferatu1001 replied to capedcrusader | 2 years ago
1 like
capedcrusader wrote:

British Cycling caved at the first oportunity even though Bridges appeared to have folllowed their rules for eligibility to race. In my opinion this is disgraceful. 

 Its the flippin job of governing to look after athletes welfare and BC have failed miserably in this case. Their actions are shocking and BC have been exposed for the spineless, heartless and selfish souls they are.

BC had plenty of reviews when coming up with the regulations for eligibility when they decided the rules. At the first sight of pressure they caved to public and private pressure. They should have said they would review the situation AFTER Bridges was allowed to compete. 

Other posters have pointed out many LGBTQ+ people are subject to ridicule, bullying and worse, and BC through their actions are complicit in the latter.

This

its a com0lete failing of leadership and safeguarding to bow to the transphobic bullies here. 

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Gkam84 replied to capedcrusader | 2 years ago
2 likes
capedcrusader wrote:

British Cycling caved at the first oportunity even though Bridges appeared to have folllowed their rules for eligibility to race. In my opinion this is disgraceful. 

 Its the flippin job of governing to look after athletes welfare and BC have failed miserably in this case. Their actions are shocking and BC have been exposed for the spineless, heartless and selfish souls they are.

BC had plenty of reviews when coming up with the regulations for eligibility when they decided the rules. At the first sight of pressure they caved to public and private pressure. They should have said they would review the situation AFTER Bridges was allowed to compete. 

Other posters have pointed out many LGBTQ+ people are subject to ridicule, bullying and worse, and BC through their actions are complicit in the latter.

British Cycling didn't cave as far as I can see, Bridges did appear to follow all the BC regulations, but it was the national championships and they are governed by the UCI, who said that Bridges didn't comply in some way with their regulations. So that wasn't on BC. They couldn't allow Bridges to compete and then review the situation.

Had BC not changed course and decided to suspend their policy, Bridges could have competed in other races governed by BC and not the UCI....

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Rendel Harris replied to capedcrusader | 2 years ago
6 likes
capedcrusader wrote:

British Cycling caved at the first oportunity even though Bridges appeared to have folllowed their rules for eligibility to race. In my opinion this is disgraceful. 

That is simply untrue and unfair, British Cycling were going to let Bridges race but the UCI said she couldn't because she was still registered with them as a male athlete. Wherever one stands on the issue, ignoring the facts in the interest of name calling isn't going to help anyone.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
0 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:
capedcrusader wrote:

British Cycling caved at the first oportunity even though Bridges appeared to have folllowed their rules for eligibility to race. In my opinion this is disgraceful. 

That is simply untrue and unfair, British Cycling were going to let Bridges race but the UCI said she couldn't because she was still registered with them as a male athlete. Wherever one stands on the issue, ignoring the facts in the interest of name calling isn't going to help anyone.

 I could be wrong but the "caved" comment is I believe the fact that, after years of implementation, BC ripped up the rules in hours. 

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Miller | 2 years ago
7 likes

Surely if you're minded to transition to the opposite sex, isn't that the big thing in your life? Like, wouldn't you expect your life to be different, including in ways you hadn't foreseen? Would you really expect to transition *and* get to do all the stuff you used to do, in a having your cake and eating it sort of way?

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chrisonabike replied to Miller | 2 years ago
5 likes

Well I thought the whole point was a) you feel bad to worse (see suicide stats) before transition.  You may well be bullied as an oddball then too. b) You transition - although I note the "self-definition" debate I believe that for most trans people that isn't an overnight thing. c) ...and now you are definitely seen as odd by many people.  You may be discriminated against in many situations or people may react with shock, horror or indeed lethal violence when they "realise". d) If you had some positive thing in your life from "before", I imagine you might well want to cling to that even more.  But now you find you can't go back and competing as you "now" the rules are confused about your new status.

Athletes being athletes - thus "people who do what others won't" in pursuit of a goal - I'd hesitate to say "no-one would transition just to win competitions" but that is probably at most a minor thing.

So "it's complicated" - there is no obvious way to change which won't disadvantage someone. It's clear that many involved see this as an existential right (or challenge to their rights).

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Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
10 likes

I must admit that statement annoyed me.  Screaming TERF or GC every time something doesn't go your way actual undermines any further valid point you might make. 
A more measured response pointing out that BC should have put together a road map and transition plan to a set of new rules would been better. 
 

I just don't buy the "if you have an issue with a tiny bit of trans representation" then you must be a trans eating monster line.   Especially in  something so niche as Elite level sport. 

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nosferatu1001 replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
1 like

I think it's more - they spent literally years deciding the rules, and pull the plug in days? That level of frustration will come out as seemingly harsh and not entirely even handed. 

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Sriracha | 2 years ago
8 likes
Quote:

Why are we now in a situation where trans people appear to be banned from racing at an elite level in cycling

Correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody is banned from racing - as far as I understand you just need to abide by the rules.

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alchemilla replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
1 like

"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."

UCI has banned her from racing now she is taking hormones and is living as a woman. Also her testosterone is low so why on earth should she be expected to race against men?

I think the way forward will sadly have to involve a much greater passage of time before a transwoman is allowed to compete against cis women, and that will be frustrating for these young athletes who may miss their best years while waiting for Governing bodies' approval. Whatever happens, it must be seen to be fair. Currently the situation is sadly not acceptable to many other competitors.

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Sriracha replied to alchemilla | 2 years ago
10 likes
alchemilla wrote:

Also her testosterone is low so why on earth should she be expected to race against men?

Ask her, she chose to race against men in February, and won. So another question is, why should women be expected to race against her?

The point is, this is her choice. She is not banned. That's a very different situation from saying people are banned on the basis of gender identity.

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sparrowlegs replied to alchemilla | 2 years ago
13 likes

Her testosterone is at or below the 5 nmol/L limit the UCI set for trans females. This is far far above the upper limit for biological females that operate in the 0.7 - 2 nmol/L range.  
Even at that level of testosterone she competed against and beat biological males in February. 
What BC have done is actually stand up for biological female athletes. I bet for more people are happy with this outcome than against it but in twitter world it won't look that way. The virtue signalling will be deafening. 

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to sparrowlegs | 2 years ago
1 like

Although I do find it funny that the same people who state that trans people are nobodies against men so only want to race against women, now use the "look how good they were against men" as an argument now. 

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nosferatu1001 replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
1 like
AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

Although I do find it funny that the same people who state that trans people are nobodies against men so only want to race against women, now use the "look how good they were against men" as an argument now. 

and, if transwomen are allowed to compete as the gender they ARE, and DONT do well, you have transphobes stating they must have deliberately thrown the competition. 
 

you cannot win, because the transphobia isn't rational. It's, at its base, irrational "ick"

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sparrowlegs replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
6 likes

Yes, it's called emerging evidence. 
Emily raced against men in Feb and won. Maybe BC have taken a look at that and realised she'd have wiped the floor with her female competitors? Or maybe BC have realised that biological females have a right not to be competed against by biological males?  
All this pearl-clutching and virtue signalling by the vociferous few just shows there's a shitload of male entitlement out there. 

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