Emily Bridges’ mother hits out at ‘inexcusable damage’ to daughter’s wellbeing over transgender row

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Emily Bridges' mother hits out at 'inexcusable damage' to daughter's wellbeing over transgender row

Emily Bridges’ mother hits out at ‘inexcusable damage’ to daughter’s wellbeing over transgender row

The mother of the transgender cyclist Emily Bridges, who has been blocked from racing against women, has accused cycling authorities of “inexcusable” damage to her daughter’s wellbeing.

In a series of Twitter postings, Sandy Sullivan explained why she was supporting an open letter by the group Pride Out which urges British Cycling to revoke “the ban on trans and non-binary cyclists”.

British Cycling announced earlier this month that it was suspending a policy which allowed transgender women to compete in women’s races provided that their testosterone had remained below 5 nmol/L limit for at least 12 months.

Bridges complied with that rule and her entry was accepted for the National Omnium Championships until it was revealed less than two days before the race that cycling’s world governing body were insisting on further scrutiny by an ‘expert panel’.

This will take up to six weeks, during which time British Cycling have been petitioned by numerous prominent former cyclists, including their own head of Olympic and Paralympic programmes, who wanted the current testosterone rule allowing transgender women scrapped.

Their subsequent announcement that transgender women cannot compete, pending a review, has led to a counter open letter organised by Pride Out, which has been signed by various cycling clubs and riders, including Philippa York. Riding as Robert Millar before her transition in 2003, York was Britain’s highest Tour de France finisher during the 20th century.

Bridges, who is 21 and had also been selected in a provisional Great Britain women’s squad for this weekend’s Nations Cup, is currently waiting to discover whether her application to compete in women’s races will be accepted.

“Effectively banning Em, despite having confirmed just a few days previously that she WOULD be eligible to race in domestic competitions, and doing that by email would be considered incomprehensible by many professional organisations,” wrote Sullivan.

“This could & should have been handled so much better and the damage caused to Em’s wellbeing IS inexcusable. As stated “this is not about one individual”…. But the damage and confusion caused to not only cycling but to the wider sporting community will take years to recover from. “Exclusion” is NOT the answer’.”

Sullivan also said that British Cycling’s explanation for withdrawing its policy suggests that the decision was taken without the advice of its independent advisory board “and was influenced significantly by pressure groups and discourse and conflict” from within.

British Cycling, which only updated its trans policy in January, said that it had wanted to advance the “the cause of promoting diversity and inclusion” but that it was a “fast-moving area of sports policy and scientific research”.

They said that the differences in their policy, and that of the Union Cycliste Internationale, meant that trans-female athletes could be eligible for domestic races, pending the UCI’s decision, and thus accrue domestic ranking points. They said that the situation was “unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing”.

There is, however, no time-frame on the latest consultation. “The challenge is far greater than one event or one sport, and only by working together can we hope to find a timely solution, which achieves fairness in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes,” said a spokesperson.

The open letter calls the decision to ban transgender women “cruel” and questioned “the use of potentially inflammatory language”. The letter also said that there was “many female riders who are supportive of their fellow riders, regardless of whether they are trans or non-binary”.