Nadine Dorries has waded into the trans sport row by saying it is impossible for transgender athletes to compete fairly against female competitors, insisting, ‘you cannot change your biology’.
The Culture Secretary called on sporting bodies to ‘protect female athletes’ and backed the idea of ’having trans categories’ in order to maintain compassion for trans athletes.
It comes after fierce debate over whether transgender cyclist Emily Bridges, 21, should have been allowed to compete in the National Omnium Championships last month.
Female riders had threatened to boycott the event, while former athletes also spoke out calling for her to be barred from competing.
International governing body the Union Cycliste Internationale eventually ruled that Ms Bridges, who competed at the highest level as a man just a few weeks earlier and held the UK national junior men’s record over 25 miles, was ineligible.
Speaking to GB News today, Ms Dorries said: ‘You can choose your gender and we will support you and help you to do that… but you cannot change your biology.
She added: ‘You cannot change that you were born male or that you were born female, it is what it is what it is.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has backed previous calls for a separate category for trans athletes
British transgender rider Bridges (pictured) was denied the opportunity to race at the National Omnium Championships last month
Bridges pictured when riding previously as a male during the 2018 Junior Tour of Wales
‘I’m afraid even with those athletes that try to get their testosterone levels below the limits, if somebody has been through puberty, it isn’t that case that it will make a significant difference.
‘We’ve seen it happen recently with cycling and female athletes have had to stand up for themselves.’
Weighing in on the debate over Ms Bridges, the Culture Secretary said she would prefer sporting bodies to discuss the issue rather than an MP proposing a new law.
She continued: ‘I hate making laws. I would prefer the sporting bodies to come together and I have asked for a round table with them to discuss this.
‘So that they can come together and reach a position that protects female athletes, but also shows compassion to trans athletes and helps them achieve their goals.
‘Maybe that is having trans categories, I don’t know, but what I do know the bottom line is you cant have transwomen competing in females sports.’
Ms Bridges began hormone therapy last year and was previously declared eligible to compete as a woman under British Cycling’s policy as she had lowered her testosterone to the required level.
But her inclusion in the National Omnium Championships received a huge backlash.
Last month former Olympic medal-winning swimmer Sharron Davies said she had been contacted by a number of women cyclists who were afraid of the consequences of speaking out against her competing.
She called for the protection of female-only sports and the creation of an ‘open’ category to include trans athletes, says she ‘absolutely support anybody who chooses to identify as the opposite sex’.
The aunt of Ms Bridges told MailOnline that barring her niece from competing against Olympic hero Dame Laura Kenny and other women is ‘unfair’.
Ms Dorries told GB News that she backed the idea of having a separate category for trans athletes
Weighing in on the debate over Ms Bridges (pictured), the Culture Secretary said she would prefer sporting bodies to discuss the issue rather than an MP proposing a new law
Speaking exclusively, Helen Bridges said: ‘It’s a bit of a tough one but I guess it’s unfair. It is unfair on Emily but the others obviously think it’s unfair on them so it’s a very, very difficult situation.
‘Maybe trans athletes should have their own class but I think they should be allowed to do it [compete in women’s sports]’.
Mrs Bridges said her niece must have suffered a great deal of ‘stress’, adding:’ I really do feel for Emily. There’s a lot more to it given the amount of emotions she’s been through. ‘
On Wednesday, double Olympic champion Katie Archibald said she believes the International Olympic Committee, the UCI and British Cycling must come up with new guidelines that ensure ‘fairness’ for females.
She said: ‘The retained advantage of people who have gone through male puberty in strength, stamina, and physique, with or without testosterone suppression, has been well documented.
‘Cycling’s global governing body, by its president’s own admission, knows this. But they chose to delay action until it became sadly personal for one rider. That wasn’t fair.
‘We can’t continue in this way. I’d like the work to start now. I’d like the national and global sports bodies to work with the wider scientific community when developing their policies.
‘I’d like us all to continue welcoming trans athletes into our clubs, our training sessions, and our races. But I’d like us to do all this without sacrificing one of the foundational pillars of sport: fairness. ‘
What are the rules for trans people who want to take part in international sports?
International Olympic Committee
The IOC has listed three general conditions for participation at the Olympics.
A report listed three conditions for participation. First, athletes must have undergone sex reassignment surgery, including changes in the external genitalia and gonadectomy. Second, athletes must show legal recognition of their gender. Third, athletes must have undergone hormone therapy for an appropriate time before participation, with two years being the suggested time.
For a trans woman (male to female MTF) athletes must declare their gender and not change that assertion for four years, as well as demonstrate a testosterone level of less than 10 nanomoles per liter for at least one year prior to competition and throughout the period of eligibility.
Athletes who transitioned from female to male (FTM) were allowed to compete without restriction. These guidelines were in effect for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
All transgender athletes wishing to compete in the category corresponding to their new gender must make their request to the medical manager appointed by the UCI, at least six weeks before the date of the first competition.
The athlete’s file will be passed on to a commission of three international experts independent of the UCI to assess the athlete’s eligibility to compete in the new gender.
The athlete must prove that their serum testosterone level has been below 5 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to the eligibility date.
Once deemed eligible, the athlete must agree to keep their serum testosterone level below 5 nmol/L for the entire time they compete in the Women category.
Trans men (FTM) are permitted to compete in the male category of International Competitions upon production of a sex recognition certificate or other form of identification that he is recognized in law as a male ie a passport or identity card
Trans women (MTF) requires documentation of surgery and notification to IAAF. There is also a consultation with a panel of medical experts and an assessment of hormone levels.
Applications are on a ‘case by case’ basis – with fairness being one of the criteria.
For a Trans man (FTM) the hormone level of blood testosterone is within the natal male range for an appropriate length of time. The individual must provide medical records and undergo annual hormone treatment verification.
Trans woman (MTF) the hormone level or gonadectomy results of blood testosterone is within the natal female range for an appropriate length of time. The individual must provide medical records and undergo annual hormone treatment verification.
A trans woman (MTF) must have ‘less than 5 nmol/L of testosterone for at least 12 months. It could be a longer period to prevent any advantage in female competition.
A trans man (FTM) must provide a written and signed declaration, in a form satisfactory to the International Tennis Federation, that his gender identity is male.
Trans women (MTF) are currently banned from playing international rugby because their testosterone gives them too much advantage because of their size and increases the chance of injury of others.
Trans men (FTM) can play international rugby for men as long as they can prove they are physically able and not facing serious injury.
Trans men may compete as their affirmed gender, and trans women ‘may compete in their affirmed gender in female or mixed-sex domestic competition by providing evidence that her hormone therapy has brought her blood- measured testosterone levels within the range of her affirmed gender or that she has had a gonadectomy. ‘
The change gender in the sport it requires genital surgery and gonadectomy.
Individuals undergoing sex reassignment from male to female after puberty (and vice versa) be eligible for participation in female or male competitions, respectively, under the following conditions:
- Surgical anatomical changes have been completed, including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy
- Legal recognition of their assigned sex has been conferred by the appropriate official authorities
- Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sport competitions
A trans woman (MTF) must show evidence that hormone therapy has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time – two year minimum – to minimize gender related competitive advantages.
If gender confirmation surgery has been completed, the athlete is in good health, and has been cleared by their surgeon to participate in weightlifting, they can apply to compete.
A trans man (FTM) has to meet the same criteria – other than if hormone therapy is desired, it must be monitored by a medical doctor and not being used as a way to enhance athletic advantage. There is no minimum time frame, however.
A trans woman (MTF) must have undergone at least one year of testosterone suppression treatment before being eligible to compete on a women’s team.
The guidelines also make clear that: ‘A trans female (MTF) athlete who is not taking hormone treatments related to gender transition may not compete on a women’s team.’
For a trans male (FTM) there is a general consensus that transsexual men and boys, even after a considerable period of time on testosterone therapy, do not usually have an unfair physical advantage over other men.