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Trans women are no longer able to compete in elite women’s events run by British Cycling after the organization made a significant U-turn and suspended its transgender policy.

The Guardian understands the decision was made by British Cycling’s board after many members – and voices within the sport – raised concerns that trans women such as Emily Bridges , who broke the national junior 25-mile record as a man before the transition, would have an unfair advantage in the women’s category.

British Cycling has also acknowledged there are ‘concerns’ that its transgender policy – which was only ratified in January – did not match the guidelines of the Sports Council Equality Group (SCEG), which were based on an 18-month science review.

However, Bridges’ mother, Sandy Sullivan, was quick to express her frustration, tweeting, “Dumped by email. We just received it in our inbox. We will make a statement at some point within the next 24 hours. Under British Cycling’s previous policy, trans women were allowed to compete if they reduced their testosterone levels below 5 nmol/L for a period of 12 months.

However, the emergence of Bridges, who started hormone therapy last year as part of his treatment for gender dysphoria, and raced in men’s events until February, led to a hasty overhaul.

The 21-year-old was due to race in her first race in the women’s category at the British National Omnium Championships last Saturday, before cycling’s governing body, the UCI, blocked her as she was still registered as a male athlete for international competitions.

The UCI’s decision came as cis women at the event considered a boycott to protest Bridges’ benefits. However, until Friday she was still able to compete in national events, before British Cycling suspended its transgender policy, pending a review.

In a statement, the governing body said: “Due to the difference between British Cycling and UCI policies regarding the licensing process, it is currently possible for trans-female athletes to be eligible to race. at the national level while their cases remain pending. with the UCI (or in situations where they are deemed ineligible).

“This allows these riders to accrue National Ranking Points that impact selection decisions for National Championship races, which is not only unprecedented in our sport, but is also unfair to all female riders. and poses a challenge to the integrity of the race. We also understand that there are concerns about the extent to which our current policy appropriately reflects the Sports Council Equality Group guidelines, published in September 2021.”

This guidance from the SCEG concluded that “testosterone suppression is unlikely to ensure equity between transgender women and native women in gender-related sports.”

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It also states that there are “enduring differences in strength, endurance, and physique between the average woman and the average transgender woman or non-binary person registered as male at birth.” Earlier this week, British Cycling’s head of Olympic programs Sara Symington co-signed a letter to the UCI criticizing its current policy on transgender inclusion. Signatories to the letter claimed that current UCI rules do not guarantee female athletes fair and meaningful competition.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also weighed in on the debate, saying he didn’t think “biological men should compete in women’s sporting events”.

In a statement, British Cycling said it would carry out a full review of its policy “in the coming weeks”. He confirmed that transgender and non-binary athletes could still participate in non-competitive activities.

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