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Boris Johnson says transgender women should not compete in women’s sport

‘I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events. Maybe that’s a controversial thing to say, but it just seems to me to be sensible’

Jamie Braidwood
Wednesday 06 April 2022 15:00 BST
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(Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he does not believe “biological men” should compete in women’s sporting events after the head of Team GB’s Olympic cycling programme backed calls for transgender riders to be banned from women’s races.

Johnson said his view on the inclusion on transgender athletes in women’s sport would be seen as “controversial” but said it was “sensible” amid the “complexities and sensitivities” of wider transgender issues.

The Prime Minister was speaking as he defended his decision to scrap plans to ban trans conversion therapy and it comes just days after British cyclist Emily Bridges was stopped from competing in her first women’s event by the sport’s governing body, the UCI.

“I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Maybe that’s a controversial thing to say, but it just seems to me to be sensible.”

Johnson also said hospitals, prisons and changing rooms should have spaces “dedicated to women”. He added: “That’s as far as my thinking has developed on this issue. If that puts me in conflict with some others, then we have got to work it all out.”

Bridges, who came out as transgender in 2020 and began hormone therapy the following year, was set to compete in the National Omnium Championships in Saturday before British Cycling announced she was “not eligible to participate” under UCI guidelines.

The 21-year-old had been cleared to compete by British Cycling after reducing her testosterone to the required level but the UCI then asked for six weeks to review Bridges’ case.

British Cycling’s testosterone rules follow those set by the UCI but the world governing body’s president, David Lappartient, told the BBC in an interview last week that those levels are “probably not enough”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sara Symington, the head of Team GB’s Olympic cycling programme, joined a group of 72 women in signing a letter criticising their rules on transgender participation in women’s races and urging them to rescind the rule that allows transgender riders to compete in women’s events if they have lowered their testosterone levels.

The letter said the rule, which requires athletes to have had testosterone levels below five nanomoles per litre for a 12-month period prior to the event, “does not guarantee female athletes ‘fair and meaningful’ competition as the UCI has promised.”

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