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British Cycling and Emily Bridges

Sex Matters welcomes the statement from British Cycling that Emily Bridges is not eligible to participate in the British National Omnium Championship on Saturday 2nd April 2022, following the application of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) guidelines.

British Cycling has chosen to recognise Emily’s disappointment, but not the distress, anger, and now relief of female cyclists and their coaches and teams, who came so close to having their opportunity to compete fairly taken away. 

Members of the Sex Matters advisory group understand that there is considerable opposition to the British Cycling’s current ‘Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy’ among female riders and coaches and within British Cycling itself. We are told that female athletes have been warned against speaking up to defend their right to a fair competition. 

Athletes speak up for fairness

We applaud the bravery and solidarity of athletes who have spoken up for fairness, including Ellie Baker, Emily Diamond, Beth Dobbin, Jessie Knight, Sally Gunnell, Andy Turner, Chris Tomlinson, Sharron Davies, Daley Thompson and Pers Karlstrom. 

British Cycling’s policy discriminates against women

The current policy allows male athletes to compete in the female category, based on testosterone suppression. But in cycling there is a 9 to 16% performance gap between the sexes that is only minimally mitigated by testosterone suppression. There is no scientific fix that can remove the puberty-related male advantage for male athletes. 

The policy results in rules which are detrimental and unfair to female cyclists, and as such we believe it is contrary to the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

The way forward

Both British Cycling and the UCI need to revisit their transgender inclusion guidelines. British Cycling has called “for a coalition to share, learn and understand more about how we can achieve fairness in sport in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes”. 

The Sports Councils Equality Group has already set out what fairness requires in its Guidance on Transgender Inclusion in Domestic Sport, released last year. Sporting categories should be determined on the basis of sex, not gender identity.

As Sex Matters’ advisory group member Olympian Mara Yamauchi said:

“Coalition? Unnecessary. All are welcome in sport, including trans people, in birth sex category – simple & fair.”

The UK could lead the way in trans inclusion by embracing diverse gender identities in male athletes competing against other males. 

We wish both Emily and all the female cyclists who can now compete on a level playing field this weekend all the very best.

We are so proud of our world-class female cyclists and hope everyone can now celebrate them as the supreme athletes they are.