Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges has revealed that she received threats of physical harm after Boris Johnson said that he did not believe that “biological males should be competing in female sporting events.”
The Prime Minister made his remarks to journalists during a hospital visit in April, a week after Bridges first hit the headlines after the UCI blocked her from competing in the National Omnium Championships.
The event would have marked the debut in a women’s race for the 21 year old, who had undergone hormone replacement therapy that led to her testosterone levels having fallen within the limits stipulated by British Cycling.
Explaining the reasoning behind his view, Johnson said: “It just seems to me to be sensible."
“I also happen to think that women should have spaces – whether it is in hospitals or prisons or changing rooms or wherever – which are dedicated to women,” he continued.
“That doesn't mean that I am not immensely sympathetic to people that want to change gender, to transition and it is vital that we give people the maximum possible love and support in making those decisions,” he added.
Bridges, who said last month that transgender athletes have become “the current punching bag in the culture war” has now revealed the direct impact the Prime Minister’s words had on her.
She told ITV News: “It's really strange to see probably the most famous man in Britain talking about you and having an opinion on something that he doesn't know anything about.
“The response after that was as expected, I had threats of physical violence made against me by complete strangers online.
“People are entitled to hold an opinion about it, but there's a way to go about voicing that opinion – and threatening to kneecap me is not that way.
“I'm scared a lot of the time about being who I am in public. Is someone going to recognise me? They were real concerns and it was a real fear that I had after the comments were made, and it was scary. I was scared.”
After Bridges was blocked from racing at the National Omnium Championships, British Cycling suspended its Transgender and Non-Binary Participation Policy.
“I think there's a lot of public pressure to pull the policy and I think that's why it was it was pulled,” said Bridges, who added that she had heard nothing from British Cycling since.
“They said that they'd be in touch about the procedure, about how they were going to make the new policy,” she said. “But I haven't heard anything.
“So, either they're not doing anything or they're not doing what they said in their email to me and including me in making a policy.”
A British Cycling spokesperson told ITV News that the governing body would provide an update on its review of its Transgender and Non-binary Participation Policy shortly.
“We are determined to ensure that cycling is a welcoming and inclusive place for all, and we are working hard to find a better answer to the challenge of balancing inclusion and fairness in competition which is shared by many other sports,” the spokesperson said.
“In doing this we have called on a coalition of organisations and voices, both within and outside of sport, to come together so that we can provide all athletes with the clarity and certainty they deserve.
“We believe that it is important that there is consistency between our Transgender and Non-binary Participation Policy and the policies and guidance held by other governing bodies and key stakeholders.
“For this reason, we are currently undertaking a full and thorough review of our policy and will share further details on the framework for this in the coming weeks.
“We sincerely apologise for the uncertainty caused by the suspension of our policy, particularly for the transgender and non-binary communities and women in our sport, and we will be actively engaging with these communities as part of our policy review,” the spokesperson added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.