British Cycling suspends trans and non-binary cyclists from competitive racing

Trans cyclist Emily Bridges rides a black bicycle in front of a brick building

British Cycling has suspended its trans and non-binary participation policy with immediate effect, promising a “full review” in the coming weeks. 

The British national governing body for cycling said on Friday (8 April) that the decision was made due to a difference in licensing policies held by British Cycling and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – the sport’s world governing body.

According to British Cycling, this difference means that is it “currently possible for trans-female athletes” to be eligible to race domestically while “their cases remain pending with the UCI (or indeed in situations where they are deemed ineligible)”. 

“This in turn allows those riders to accrue domestic ranking points which impact selection decisions for National Championship races, which is not only unprecedented in our sport, but is also unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing,” the statement continued. 

As a result, British Cycling’s board of directors voted on Wednesday (6 April) to immediately suspend its current policy, pending a coming review. The governing body said this review will “allow us time for further discussion with all stakeholders, including women and the transgender and non-binary communities”. 

British Cycling added it is “committed” to ensuring that trans and non-binary cyclists are “welcomed, supported and celebrated” in the sport. It said the inclusion of trans and non-binary people within “non-competitive activities” will remain “unaffected by the suspension”. 

The decision comes a week after trans cyclist Emily Bridges was not allowed to enter a women’s event at the British National Omnium Championships

Bridges, who came out publicly as trans in October 2020, was due to compete against some of the top female cyclists in what would have been her first women’s event on 2 April. 

But British Cycling said it was informed shortly before the event by the UCI that Bridges was not eligible to compete under its current guidelines. 

According to Sky Sports, British Cycling had, at the time, accepted that Bridges met its eligibility policy which stipulated that trans cyclists meet a certain testosterone level for at least 12 months before they can compete in the female race category. But the outlet said the UCI had not granted Bridges the ability to switch her licence. 

Bridge’s mum Sandy Sullivan shared the British Cycling statement on Twitter and added that her daughter had been “dumped by email”. 

“We’ve just received this in our inbox,” Sullivan wrote. “We will be making a statement at some point during the next 24 hrs.”

Bridges released a statement shortly after British Cycling’s vague announcement about her being ineligible to compete at the British National Omnium Championships.

She explained that she has “been in contact with British Cycling and the UCI” over the criteria she would need to meet as a trans woman to compete in the female category at the event. Bridges added that she had provided both organisations with “medical evidence” that she met the eligibility criteria for trans female cyclists. 

She learned from British Cycling’s public statement that she had been stopped from competing and had “little clarity around their finding of my ineligibility under their regulations”. 

“I am an athlete, and I just want to race competitively again, within the regulations set by British Cycling and UCI after careful consideration of the research around transgender athletes,” Bridges said. 

“No one should have to choose between being who they are, and participating in the sport that they love.”