Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges to compete against Laura Kenny | Cycling News

“Saturday is a notable event”; transgender cyclist Emily Bridges will compete in her first women’s event this Saturday in Derby; five-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny will also be taking part in the Omnium

Last Updated: 30/03/22 5:36 pm

Emily Bridges will come up against five-time Olympic cycling champion Dame Laura Kenny at Saturday's event.

Emily Bridges will come up against five-time Olympic cycling champion Dame Laura Kenny at Saturday’s event.

Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges will compete in her first women’s event at this Saturday’s National Omnium Championships in Derby, where she will come up against five-time Olympic champion Dame Laura Kenny.

British Cycling updated its transgender regulations this year, with riders required to have testosterone levels below five nanomoles per liter for a 12-month period prior to racing.

Whilst she was complete her hormone therapy as part of her gender dysphoria treatment, Bridges continued to compete in men’s events, winning the men’s points race at the British University Championships in Glasgow.

In an interview with Cycling Weekly earlier this month, Bridges opened up on the goal she had set herself to compete in a women’s event.

“It was always the plan,” Bridges said.

Laura Kenny pictured during the Women's Omnium scratch race, 1 round of 4 the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Laura Kenny pictured during the Women’s Omnium scratch race, 1 round of 4 the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

“After starting hormone therapy I did not want to race in the male category any more than I had to – obviously, it sucks, getting dropped, racing as a man when you’re not one. It was quickly apparent that was the wrong category for me.

“By the summer of 2020 I’d fallen out of love with the sport. I couldn’t live like that any more – I couldn’t be my true self.”

“Saturday is a notable event”

Joanna Harper, author of ‘Sporting Gender’ and advisor to the Olympics on transgender rights, gave some insight into what Bridges has had to do in order to compete.

“So the rule that requires trans women like Emily to maintain low levels of testosterone for 12 months has significance for endurance sports. After three to four months on hormone therapy, a trans woman will go from male levels to female levels of haemoglobin and whilst there are many things that are important for endurance sports, haemoglobin levels are the single most important criteria.

“There will be little doubt that Emily will be slower than she was before but how much slower is slow enough? We will not be certain until she competes.”

Joanna Harper, author of the book Sporting Gender and a PHD researcher at Loughborough University explains why Emily Bridges' participation at the National Omnium Championships is a significant step and what we can expect from her.

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Joanna Harper, author of the book Sporting Gender and a PHD researcher at Loughborough University explains why Emily Bridges’ participation at the National Omnium Championships is a significant step and what we can expect from her.

Joanna Harper, author of the book Sporting Gender and a PHD researcher at Loughborough University explains why Emily Bridges’ participation at the National Omnium Championships is a significant step and what we can expect from her.

There has been heated discussion after the announcement that Bridges will be competing at the event, but Harper believes that the discussion is valid as long as it is civil.

“It is only one race so you can not put too much significance on it but the fact that Emily has gone through hormone therapy, has played by all the rules and will be competing in a women’s event for the first time on Saturday is a notable event, “Harper said.

“There is nothing wrong with people engaging in debate as long as they are civil about it. The problem is that many people, on both sides of this debate, aren’t civil.

“Obviously it is concerning that for an athlete to be allowed to go and compete she requires police protection but there are some very uncivil people on both sides of this debate.

“Certainly as a scientist I am curious to see what Emily can do, I think it will be a significant event for British cycling, for trans participation in high level sports and I plan to be there as a spectator.”

Coming Out: Emily Bridges’ transgender journey

Emily Bridges first came out in an interview with Sky Sports back in October 2020, in which she opened up on her journey so far as an elite cyclist.

Opening up on her hopes for the future, she said: “There’s such a long way to go in making sport, specifically cycling, more inclusive. We need to encourage more people from BAME backgrounds, more women, disabled people and LGBTQ + people into cycling .It’s still seen as the domain of white, middle-aged, middle class men, and it needs to represent the wider population much better, and be more accessible.

“I hope that I can be a small part of changing the culture for the better and encourage people in the sporting world to fully be themselves. I also want to show that people should not have to choose between being themselves and doing the sport that Sport has to be for everyone, regardless of who they are.

“I know that people will have questions about fairness. I feel I have an opportunity to show that the existing eligibility rules for trans athletes in competition are appropriate.

“Whatever level I’m riding at, I have such a passion for the sport that I love. Ultimately, I want to try to be the best possible athlete and individual I can be.

“For those that know me, I’m still the same person. The difference is that now I’m being more true to myself. I hope that by sharing the story of my coming out, it helps someone else out there to be true too. “

You can read Emily’s full Coming Out story here:

Emily Bridges: Coming out as trans in cycling is a crucial step on my journey | Cycling News | Sky Sports

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