A cyclist who is biologically male but now identifies as female was outright banned from competing in a women’s championship race this weekend in the wake of threats from the female competitors planning to boycott the event entirely.
After formerly competing against men under the name Zach Bridges, Emily Bridges was removed from the women’s British National Omnium Championship early on Saturday.
This event would have been the first race against women for Bridges. The athlete only started their hormone therapy just last year, as reported by the BBC.
Bridges was classified as “ineligible” to compete by the UCI, the governing body for cycling, in the wake of other women threatening to boycott the race.
“Bridges – who set a national junior men’s record over 25 miles in 2018 – had been due to compete against several British Olympians, including Dame Laura Kenny, in her first race in the women’s category,” stated a report from The Guardian. “However the UCI ruled the 21-year-old, who began hormone therapy last year to reduce her testosterone levels, was currently not compliant with its regulations as she is still registered as a male cyclist – and therefore cannot compete as a woman until her male UCI ID expires.”
The Guardian highlighted that the decision from the UCI “came amid a growing backlash from within the sport, with the Guardian understanding that a number of female riders were talking about boycotting the event in Derby because they felt that Bridges, who was on the Great Britain Academy programme as a male rider until being dropped in 2020, had an unfair advantage.”
The BBC also noted that the UCI has the power to bar Bridges from cycling against women even if they meet “eligibility criteria,” as a way to “protect health and safety, and “guarantee fair and meaningful competition that displays and rewards the fundamental values and meaning of the sport.”
The subject of various biologically male, but transgender, athletes trying to compete against women has been a focal point within the United States as well.
Will Thomas, a former male swimming competitor, made the choice to start competing and ended up dominating the scene for women’s collegiate swimming once they started to identify as female and changed their name to “Lia.”
The backlash from this incident was enormous, despite the fact that the females directly impacted by Lia’s “inclusion” were supposedly intimidated to stay quiet about it.
Despite this, one swimmer from Virginia Tech chose to speak out publically after one of her teammates was beaten by Thomas, who very easily took first place at the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship for the 500-yard freestyle event.
“It’s a common conception that we are all very disappointed and frustrated with someone who has capabilities more than us women have,” stated the swimmer to Savanah Hernandez with Rapid Fire, as reported by OutKick. “To be able to compete at this level and take opportunities away from other women.”
She was also sporting a sticker that stated, “Say no to males competing as females.”
“I’ve got a teammate who did not make the final today because she was just bumped out of finals,” stated the collegiate swimmer. “It’s heartbreaking to see someone who went through puberty as a male and has the body of a male be able to absolutely blow away the competition.”
She highlighted that one of her teammates was made to cry after she ended up coming in 17th place, missing the finals by a single position after she was bumped out by Thomas.
“She was very emotional, and it’s hard to see because it’s her last NCAAs; she really loves that race, and it was just heartbreaking that she put all of her efforts into it today … one of the best times that’s she went in a morning session and still not make it back,” explained the swimmer. “It’s hard to see someone who works every day and every night still not be able to compete against someone like that.”