Top women cyclists 'are too scared to speak out' over trans rival

Top women cyclists ‘are too scared to speak out’ over trans rival as she prepares to race against them and Dame Laura Kenney in the national championships just a month after she was competing in male events

  • Emily Bridges began hormone therapy in 2021 and can now compete as a woman
  • The decision by British Cycling to let her compete has ‘distressed’ other cyclists
  • The 21-year-old will compete at the National Omnium Championships in Derby
  • She will face a field including Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny on Saturday

Women cyclists are ‘distressed’ that a transgender rider will race top female athletes this weekend but are too scared to speak out, it was claimed yesterday.

Emily Bridges, 21, will compete against five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny in the National Omnium Championships in Derby on Saturday.

But there has been backlash against the inclusion of Miss Bridges, who was on the Great Britain Academy programme as a male rider and raced in men’s events as recently as last month.

She began hormone therapy last year and is now eligible to compete as a woman under British Cycling’s policy as she has lowered her testosterone to the required level.

Emily Bridges began hormone therapy last year and has now been declared as eligible to compete in women’s events by British Cycling

Emily Bridges, seen here riding in the Tour de Gwent in April 2018, before she began her transition. Her inclusion in women’s events has left some female cyclists ‘distressed’

She could now compete for Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer. 

She may also be selected for Team GB at the Olympics in Paris in 2024, where she could be in the same team pursuit line-up as Dame Laura.

The decision to allow Miss Bridges to ride in women’s events has been heavily criticised.

Former Olympic medal-winning swimmer Sharron Davies says she has been contacted by a number of women cyclists who are afraid of the consequences of speaking out.

‘British Cycling ought to be ashamed of themselves,’ she said. ‘I have had quite a few of the girls very distressed on the phone. They are frustrated and disappointed. 

‘They are all for inclusion but not at the loss of fairness and opportunities for biological females.

‘I can’t see how this isn’t sexual discrimination in the tallest order. Reducing testosterone does not mitigate male puberty advantage.

‘Emily retains an unfair advantage. She competed with the men’s team very successfully last year whilst reducing testosterone.

‘This is wrong and people must start calling it out or lose sport for future generations of young girls.’

A well-placed source added: ‘Everyone is afraid to say anything for fear of retribution.’ 

Miss Bridges, pictured here in August 2018, had set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles in the same year

In 2018, Miss Bridges set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles. 

Her time of 47min 27sec was more than two minutes faster than Hayley Simmonds’ female senior record.

She was dropped from the GB Academy shortly before she came out as a transgender woman in 2020. 

But Miss Bridges continued to compete as a male, winning the points race at last month’s British Universities’ Championships, as well as bronze in the men’s team pursuit.

While not a member of Britain’s women’s track endurance squad, she could be added in time for the next Olympics if her performances merit selection, and she would be eligible under the current rules.

British Cycling updated its transgender policy in January ‘based on objective scientific research, driven by a desire to guarantee fairness and safety within the sport’.

It said that ‘testosterone levels remain the primary method of determining which members are eligible to compete in the male and female categories’.

She continued to compete as a male after coming out as a transgender woman, winning the points race at last month’s British Universities’ Championships, as well as bronze in the men’s team pursuit

But Ross Tucker, of the Real Science of Sport podcast, said: ‘There is no good evidence that suppressing testosterone removes male advantage because the biology that is created by testosterone in males is not undone – performance advantages are likely to persist too.’

Fiona McAnena, of group Fair Play For Women, added: ‘British Cycling say they want to promote greater female participation, so why would anyone think it’s a good idea to add males to female events?’

Miss Bridges could have police protection at Derby on Saturday, according to her mother Sandy, who wrote on Twitter: ‘This is the reality of being trans today. 

‘That my daughter has to be on a police operation plan to compete in a bike race in the UK.’

Tokyo 2020 medalist Neah Evans will also take part in the event.

In a statement, British Cycling said: ‘We believe that the updated policy reflects the current evidence available to us, however we acknowledge that more research into this area is required.’

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