British trans cyclist Emily Bridges has admitted she’s struggled since suddenly being excluded from a major national championship last month.
It would have been her first elite race competing in the women's category, and she was due to line up against the sport’s biggest names, including Dame Laura Kenny. In an interview with DIVA magazine, Bridges said: “I’ve been trying to take each day by day, get through the day and get to the other side, because there’s been some pretty dark times.” “It’s awful to be told so close to the event, having been speaking to them since January.” To make matters worse for Bridges, in the days after that decision, British Cycling tore up its own relatively new transgender and non-binary participation policy (which allowed her to compete because she’d complied fully with all its requirements - namely to suppress her testosterone levels continuously for 12 months)
She was pulled from the event because the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body, said it needed another six weeks to consider her case further before re-registering Bridges as a female cyclist. That was nine weeks ago now, and the UCI has not commented publicly about any resolution to Bridges’ situation.
It’s also understood that Bridges has had no contact from British Cycling since her world was suddenly turned upside down.
Bridges tells DIVA that at the time of the championships she stopped looking at social media, fearing it could become both toxic and hurtful. “Over the past few weeks, I’ve just blocked it all out. There were two weeks where I completely deleted my social media because I knew that it was going to be too intense.
"It was wall-to-wall articles all the time. There’s so much hate and criticism that I just don’t look at it.”
Alongside her interview with DIVA, Bridges took part in a photoshoot donning both her training gear and fashion outfits.
When asked what she would say to people who don’t think trans women have a place in elite sport, she says: “There are studies going on for trans women in sport. I’m doing one and the performance drop-off that I’ve seen is massive."
"I don’t have any advantage over my competitors, and I’ve got data to back that up.”
Bridges believes the trans community is the current “punching bag” in the culture war, but she told DIVA she wouldn’t discourage other young trans athletes from following their dreams: “Things will get better. It’s not gonna be like this forever. The evidence shows that it is fair for trans women to compete in female sport. It might take a few years for things to change, but just keep going.” After suffering in silence for a few weeks, clearly Bridges is finding her voice.
And you get the feeling, given how she’s been treated recently by those that run the sport she loves, there is so much more this young woman has got to say.
Emily Bridges spoke to DIVA magazine for their June issue to coincide with Pride month.
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