The cyclist’s inclusion in the championship is unfair to women everywhere
[This piece was first published on 30 March 2022. The following day, Bridges was blocked from participating in the women’s British National Omnium Championship on 2 April 2022 after being ruled ineligible by cycling’s governing body, the UCI.]
This weekend*, Emily Bridges is set to compete against some of Britain’s finest female cyclists at the National Omnium Championships in Derby. Only last month, Bridges won the men’s points race at the British Universities’ championship.
To be competitive at elite level in both men’s and women’s sport, of course, is the prerogative of transwomen. Bridges only began hormone therapy last year and has been competing in men’s competitions — rather successfully it seems — while the clock ticked down on the 12-month qualification period during which Bridges’ blood testosterone needed to stay below 5 nmol/litre.
What happens in Derby on Saturday remains to be seen. But even if Bridges finishes last — which seems unlikely — at least one woman will already have been displaced from the line-up. Let’s be clear: inclusion here is a zero-sum game. When a transwoman is included, a woman is excluded. Appallingly, this travesty is taking place at sporting events women thought were their own.
Nor is this a one off. Two weeks ago, Lia Thomas, another transwoman, stole victory in the Women’s NCAA Swimming finals in Atlanta. The debate has clearly moved on from 43-year old Laurel Hubbard who in the end failed to complete a lift in Tokyo. Neither Thomas nor Bridges are ageing veterans. Both are in their early 20s and in their prime.
The unfairness is obvious, but sports governing bodies have been captured by trans activists. Blind to the consequences, they have lapped up the dogma that if a man claims to ‘feel like a woman’ then he is a woman. The legacy of male puberty lasts for life: longer bones, larger lungs, bigger hearts, and much else. In fact, researchers Emma Hilton and Tommy Lundberg found that ‘the performance gap between males and females becomes significant at puberty and often amounts to 10–50% depending on sport’ and — crucially — ‘the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed.’
It stands to reason that transwomen will keep beating women until these rules are changed. Even once is once too often for the women who lose out, but the trickle may become a flood. From this, women have everything to lose.
Transwomen are not women — we are the other sex — and in sport especially that truth is plain to see. Taking places and prizes that are not ours to claim will likely lose us many friends. If governing bodies fail to protect women’s sports, it is in our interest not to take advantage.