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Emily Bridges has no place in women’s cycling

The legacy of male puberty lasts for life: longer bones, larger lungs, bigger hearts, and much else

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.


Debbie Hayton

* This article was first published by Unherd on 30 March 2022: Emily Bridges has no place in women’s cycling.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

14 replies on “Emily Bridges has no place in women’s cycling”

One of the reasons I like you, Debbie, is that you care about women AND about fairness. Clearly, the trans women who are moving into women’s sports feel competitive with real women. Some trans women claim to admire real women, but in too many cases, I think the trans “woman” is bringing her male misogyny with her into the sports arena. The Lia Thomases and Rachel McKinnons and Emily Bridgeses have no love for women, but see them as an easy way to become a big frog in a small pond. One would think that by now people would begin to see the truth, but instead of that I recently read an article that praised Lia Thomas’s feminine physique — can you believe that?

Because of my low income, I qualify for a rental subsidy here in the U.S., and that requires me to have my apartment inspected every year. Just a couple days ago the inspector came. “His” name was Timothy but looked every bit like a young woman, and had a young woman’s high voice. Indeed, when I opened the door, she looked exactly like the Lesbian who lives across the street, and I had to do a double-take. I was tempted to advise Timothy to wait before having any surgeries done (to be absolutely sure he wouldn’t change his mind), but I don’t think he would have appreciated my unsolicited advice. According to my reading, most of the trans people who are changing their minds are young women, but not before they’ve done damage to themselves. Within a few years of beginning testosterone, a young woman’s voice can drop very low, and she may never get her feminine voice back.

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Thank you. It seems to me that transsexualism in women is different to my experience. But whatever the cause, I support the rights of adults to break gendered norms and expectations. What I worry about greatly is the way this can lead to life-changing medical treatment in young people.

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It’s completely nuts. Sports bodies will ban athletes for using substances that enhance their performance, but allow minimal reduction of testosterone as entry qualification to the women’s sport. I will be demanding entry to the Paralympics next year, and if I don’t get it I’ll be suing them for discrimination against people with moderate red-green colour-blindness.

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Thank you, Debbie. I find it ironic and sad that biological women have no greater champion than you, who does not pretend to be a biological woman and refuses to buy into the delusion that a man has only ‘to feel’ he is a woman and lo and behold (the age of miracles is not dead) but he becomes one.

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Thanks Debbie, i really love your direct honest factual way with words and supporting women in general. I, like most i expect, only noticed how widespread transiasm has become because of extremists being cruel to jk rowling, a lovely Christian lady i respect. My daughters fiances sister became a brother many years ago and like me he is worried the general public will blame all transpeople for this obvious unfairness in sports where it seems it is cheating and doing it to win at all costs. Its absolutely like the old show “twilight zone” to me, to wake up and find men in womens sports. We have a category for disabled so why not make a category for transpeople so womens sports dont become known in 20 years time as “men in dresses” or ” men who have bullied women out” sports. Thats what people will say. There saying it now! Its making transpeople in general look very bad. But if it continues, there will be no womens sports at all. Girls will be excluded from sports completely, when womens girls sports were created to give females a chance. Im horrified after reading so much about exclusions from doping! I am so glad you speak up for women. You’re brilliant. Thankyou.

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I hope you don’t mind my mentioning another trans activist here who supports your point of view, but Blaire White (whose videos are posted on YouTube) said that she has been taking estrogen for seven years and is STILL seeing changes from it. She said that after merely one year of taking it, she saw very few physical changes. If that’s true, then allowing men to enter women’s sports after just one year of taking estrogen isn’t enough. But if we require them to take estrogen for five years, half of their useful life as athletes would be over. The solution, I think, is that trans women must play against themselves, or against the men.

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@Fiona Ingram there are many really great women advocates.
J.K.Rowling
Kellie-Jay Keen
Sharon Davies
Julia Hartley-Brewer
Maya Forstater
Heather Binning
Joanna Cherry
Rosie Duffield
Caroline Fiske
Alison Bailey
Baroness Nicholson
…. the list is long. Recommend you read up on these great ladies.

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Sue, I think you missed my point. I am aware of and follow these wonderful women on Twitter but the point is, Debbie is not and does not claim to be a biological woman and is standing up for women AGAINST those males who do pretend to be women.

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Fiona, you are correct, I did miss your point. The wording, if I may say so, was unclear.
Debbie does great work, I applaud his calm and intelligent approach calling out the false and dangerous narrative around trans issues. I read and share many of his articles and have travelled to hear him speak.
Where we need to be careful is around the discussion of women’s rights. To state there is no greater champion is untrue and does a great disservice to the women listed (and many more not) above.

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