Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges could receive public funding if she is allowed to compete in women's races.
UK Sport chiefs have stopped short of echoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion that transgender women should be barred from female-only sporting events, maintaining eligibility rules must be established on a sport-by-sport basis.
And chief executive Sally Munday said the government-led funding agency would have no hesitation in giving financial backing to any athlete irrespective of gender, provided they were deemed worthy and eligible by their respective national governing body.
Referencing the case of the transgender cyclist Emily Bridges, who was recently ruled ineligible to compete in the national championships by cycling’s world governing body, the Prime Minister said on Wednesday that such a ban “seems sensible”.
Emily Bridges Instagram
But UK Sport is insistent that each sport must take its own responsibility for shaping rules and protocols on the eligibility of transgender athletes, given the vast range of complexities involved.
Munday said: “We have been really clear in our guidance – it is down to sports to decide and to work with their international federations about what the rules should be.
“What is really important is that we make sure as a sporting industry that we are inclusive, that we are welcoming, and that we enable everyone who wants to play sport to play sport.
“When inclusion bumps up against fairness and safety, it’s down to an individual sport to consider and make the decisions that are appropriate for that sport.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday March 30, 2022. House of Commons
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it seems “sensible” that transgender women should not be able to compete in female sporting categories.
Johnson made the comments during a visit to a hospital in Welwyn Garden City on Wednesday in the wake of transgender cyclist Emily Bridges being prevented from riding at the National Omnium Championships in Derby last weekend.
Bridges, who began hormone therapy last year, had been due to race for the first time in the female category after British Cycling gave the 21-year-old the green light to enter, but the International Cycling Union ruled her ineligible.
“I don’t think that biological males should be competing in female sporting events. And maybe that’s a controversial thing… but it just seems to me to be sensible,” the Prime Minister said.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m not immensely sympathetic to people who want to change gender, to transition. It’s vital that we give people the maximum possible love and support in making those decisions.
“But these are complex issues and I don’t think they can be solved with one swift, easy piece of legislation. It takes a lot of thought to get this right.”
Welsh rider Bridges detailed how she had been “harassed and demonised” in the days after UCI had prevented her from racing at the Derby Velodrome Arena.
She first went public with the challenges she has faced with her gender at the end of 2020 and, while going through hormone therapy, has continued to race in men event’s, winning the men’s points race at the British Universities Championships in Glasgow in February.