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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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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like
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ktache replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

But then simply define fruit...

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chrisonabike replied to ktache | 1 year ago
2 likes

"After looking at the evidence that some 'vegetables' might be considered 'fruit', the complexities of bananas and plantains and the existence of the coconut we have decided that mostly it's easier to stick with what we've got and accept the occasional hawaiian pizza."

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ktache replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

See, now you've got me thinking about mushrooms...

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

See, now you've got me thinking about mushrooms...

They're definitely male right?

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chrisonabike replied to Jimwill | 1 year ago
2 likes

Oh no!  You've brought sex into it, that gets even more complicated in fungi!

Or alternatively shows that human definitions and heuristics only go so far.  Mind you I don't particularly fancy fungi - on pizzas or most places outside of cheese so that's fine.

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Jimwill replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
2 likes

Oh. My bad. Just presumed being funguys they'd be blokes

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ktache replied to Jimwill | 1 year ago
1 like

Well...

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nosferatu1001 replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
0 likes
Sriracha wrote:

Possibly so. Or possibly because women did not start the dispute in the first place.

so the cis-women on the side of not being bigots don't count? 

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ktache replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
5 likes

But they are and have always been women (unless of course they themselves do not wish to be defined in this manner). I was just pointing out how ill-defined his definition truly was, and would in fact remove quite a few women from competitive sport, especially the infertility thing.  I have not really been commenting on the trans issue, and do not really have a defined opinion. Which for me is odd and not common.  The best I can come up with it's all very complicated, and over many years my mind may be changed in different ways.

But what I will say is that I don't believe that there have been any large scale genetic analysis done on top athletes. But when you start to really look, there are some odd things that might start showing up.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
2 likes
biker phil wrote:

Well, in my world, a biological woman has a cervix, ovaries, breasts, has the ability to be able to reproduce and have babies. Whereas a biological male does not have any of the above and cannot have babies. That seems pretty clear to me, and anyone else with common sense.

Unfortunately, unless you're a lefty liberal woke, you cannot have eveything your own way in life, just because you want it.

So to confirm you are a misogynist who reduces the gender of "woman" purely to the presence of certain reproductive organs and whether or not they can carry babies. 
Yep, when I said you sound AS idiotic as the GOP senators above, I was wrong. You sound more. 

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Jimwill replied to Rik Mayals underpants | 1 year ago
0 likes

Not born with cock and balls

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mdavidford replied to sparrowlegs | 1 year ago
3 likes
sparrowlegs wrote:

What BC have done is actually stand up for biological female athletes.

That's a bit of a stretch. What they appear to have done is thrown their hands up in the air and said 'it's too complicated - we give up'. It's only fallen back to the current position by default, rather than by some definitive decision on their part. It's a bit of a 'plague on all your houses' response.

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lonpfrb replied to mdavidford | 1 year ago
1 like
mdavidford wrote:
sparrowlegs wrote:

What BC have done is actually stand up for biological female athletes.

That's a bit of a stretch. What they appear to have done is thrown their hands up in the air and said 'it's too complicated - we give up'. It's only fallen back to the current position by default, rather than by some definitive decision on their part. It's a bit of a 'plague on all your houses' response.

Most rational people, especially competitive people, expect the regulation to be based on science which is based on evidence and logic. So where the regulation has failed is to make decisions in advance of the science.

We saw this dynamic in the Pandemic where the medicine regulator did not approve new vaccines for use in a population that had not been through a credible collection of pharmaceutical trials conducted and reviewed to industry standards. Thus it was only the scientifically ignorant who disputed the efficacy and safety of approved vaccines. In another country the politicians chose to conflate public health measures with personal freedom because it suited their agenda and their supporters are scientifically ignorant so can be influenced by opinion. Epidemiology is unknown to them.

BC should not take decisions without good science based on good data and practice. That doesn't exist yet so finding a way to enable it in collaboration with ICU & IOC seems the logical next step. It's sad that existing regulation is not yet fully inclusive but wrong to pretend that it can be based on incomplete or bad science. It's certainly wrong to work on the basis of opinion and volume.

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chrisonabike replied to lonpfrb | 1 year ago
4 likes

Problem is this is not a debate, it's a fight with several parties.  And the problem is one of decision (categories and rules) and identity.  So "science" is not going to help much.  That just tells you what is (or what you measure), not what you might want to do about that.

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lonpfrb replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
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chrisonatrike wrote:

Problem is one of decision (categories and rules) and identity. So "science" is not going to help much. That just tells you what is (or what you measure), not what you might want to do about that.

British Cycling state "We administer the sporting calendars in all domestic cycle sport and oversee cycling’s development across all disciplines, helping to ensure those who want to race can do so in a competitive and compelling environment."

So they need to decide what information their oversight requires to be credible, and what studies are needed to provide that information.

There are no shortage of UK sports science institutions who could deliver those studies and work with British Cycling to refine what should be studied. Doing that correctly is more important than doing it quickly if the result is to be credible.

A scientific approach is how hard problems are solved with openness and transparency. Thus reasonable people can see the evidence for themselves and be assured that the regulation is fair whilst consistent with the stated objectives..

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chrisonabike replied to lonpfrb | 1 year ago
3 likes

Slight nit-pick - I agree that using science to tell us what the facts are - and make decisions more credible - is important. And from these threads it appears to be at least some of the required science is out there. Or we have an understanding of how and where to look.  They should be doing that, indeed.

In the end though this controversy is (pinching someone else's phrase) in the category of "predicament" and not "problem". You don't "solve" it, you make choices.   Those may have better or worse consequences, for different people, short or longer term - and will change the shape of the future. The place of science is to inform those choices.  I'd agree that it seems at least it can here.

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mdavidford replied to lonpfrb | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm not sure what any of that has to do with my comment about BC's position or their handling of it, though. Did you reply to the wrong post?

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