Trans athlete Emily Bridges speaks out about abuse after being denied racing chance: 'I've been relentlessly harassed and demonised'
The 21-year-old has questioned the decision to prevent her from racing this weekend
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Trans woman cyclist Emily Bridges has released a statement condemning public reaction to her plan to compete in female racing.
Bridges was due to partake in this Sunday's National Omnium Championships in Derby in her first competitive race since her transition, but on Wednesday British Cycling announced that "under their [the UCI's] guidelines Emily is not eligible to participate in this event."
The reason given was that the sport's governing body have said that Bridges is still registered as a male rider, and cannot complete in female categories until her male UCI ID expires. Bridges, who was on British Cycling's Senior Academy program in 2019, came out publicly as a transgender woman in October 2020.
In her first public reaction to the news, Bridges said that she hopes the UCI "will reconsider their decision in line with the regulations" adding in a statement that "I still have little clarity around their finding of my ineligibility under their regulations."
She said: "For the last six months, I have been in contact with British Cycling and the UCI over the eligibility criteria I would need to meet as a transgender woman in order to race in the female category at the British National Omnium Championships this Saturday."
British Cycling's transgender policy states that a female rider's testosterone level must be below 5nmol/L for at least 12 months before their first race.
Bridges continued: "In that time, I have provided both British Cycling and UCI with medical evidence that I meet the eligibility criteria for transgender female cyclists, including that my testosterone level has been far below the limit prescribed by the regulations for the last 12 months."
The national federation have also called for a coalition "to share, learn and understand more about how we can achieve fairness in a way that maintains the dignity and respect of all athletes."
For Bridges, however, the immediate concern is how to deal with the intense public scrutiny that her story has generated. National publications and broadcasters have all picked the story up, with social media being a cesspit for hateful comments towards the cyclist.
>>> 'I just want to be competitive again': Trans cyclist Emily Bridges on preparing to race in the female category
She wrote: "As is no surprise with most of the British media, I've been relentlessly harassed and demonised by those who have a specific agenda to push.
"They attack anything that isn’t the norm and print whatever is most likely to result in the highest engagement for their articles, and bring in advertising. This is without care for the wellbeing of individuals or marginalised groups, and others are left to pick up the pieces due to their actions.
"Trans people are the latest of a long list of people to be treated this way, and unfortunately, without change, we won’t be the last. I’ve had journalists at my front door every day harassing us for comment and story, my privacy has been totally violated over speculation around my eligibility and fairness to compete.
"I’ve had to deactivate my social media to prevent the targeted abuse I am receiving, and block websites to stop seeing them. This is despite the fact I have not yet raced in the female category. I have been judged despite a total lack of evidence against me, purely because I am trans.
She added: "No one should have to choose between being who they are, and participating in the sport that they love."
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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