Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges who won gold in ‘inclusive’ race reveals she was threatened with kneecapping after Boris Johnson said ‘biological males shouldn’t compete in women’s sports’ – and blasts the PM for ‘not knowing anything about’ the issue
A transgender cyclist who won gold in an ‘inclusive’ race has revealed she received threats of ‘physical violence’ after Boris Johnson said ‘biological males shouldn’t compete in women’s sports’ events.
Emily Bridges claimed she suffered threats ‘from strangers online’ after the Prime Minister made his ‘controversial’ comments back in April and has blasted him for ‘not knowing anything’ about the issue.
She won gold in the ThunderCrit race at Herne Hill velodrome in South-East London last Friday in an independent race aimed to be inclusive for trans and non-binary people.
The 21-year-old Welsh athlete made headlines in March when her attempts to compete against Olympic hero Dame Laura Kenny at the British National Omnium Championships in the women’s category were thwarted at the 11th hour by world governing body UCI.
It sparked a debate which spread further than just the sport, with the Prime Minister weighing in when he stated: ‘I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events’.
Bridges has now 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 he doesn’t know anything about.
‘The response after that was as expected. I had threats of physical violence made against me, and by complete strangers online, and I’m scared a lot of the time about being who I am in public.
Emily Bridges suffered threats of ‘physical violence’ after the Prime Minister made his ‘controversial’ comments back in April.
Emily Bridges won the race, followed by Lilly Chant and Jo Smith in third – but the photo has sparked backlash amongst gender critics on social media
‘People are always going to have an opinion about it. They’re 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.’
British Cycling has recently suspended its trans policy, blocking athletes from switching their racing licence from male to female until they had reviewed their rules.
Bridges, who was on British Cycling’s senior academy in 2019 and came out as a transgender woman in October 2020, said the spotlight placed on her made her ‘scared’ she would be ‘recognised in public’.
She added: ‘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.’
During the subsequent debate, British Cycling said it was suspending its transgender policy pending a review ‘to find a better answer’.
Some of those most vocal against Bridges’ potential inclusion in the March event pointed to the fact she had competed in the men’s points race of the British Universities’ Championships a month earlier.
The 21-year-old Welsh athlete made headlines in March when her attempts to compete against Olympic hero Dame Laura Kenny at the British National Omnium Championships in the women’s category were thwarted at the 11th hour by world governing body UCI
The cyclist accepts in hindsight it was maybe the wrong decision but insisted it was made to ensure she remained competitive, especially ahead of appearing at the championships in Derby, which initial British Cycling rules on transgender participation ensured she could enter.
‘It probably wasn’t the right thing to do,’ Bridges admitted.
‘I wanted to do it because I wanted to keep my skills sharp. Immediately after I came off the track, I was like ‘I kind of wish I hadn’t done that’ because I knew what was coming.’
After the UCI’s intervention and failure to grant Bridges a switch in licence, British Cycling suspended its transgender policy pending a review to ‘find a better answer’.
It meant any hopes the cyclist from Wales had of competing at the Commonwealth Games – where transgender females are allowed to race in the women’s event – in Birmingham this summer were dashed.
Pictured: Bridges before she began her transition and began openly identifying as female
Bridges added: ‘I knew that my main goal for the season, the Commonwealth Games, was then out of the question because I couldn’t race this event, and it was unlikely I was going to be able to race any international events during the Welsh Cycling’s set timeframe for the selection.
‘So the Commonwealth Games were gone. I feel a real pride about being Welsh and I wanted to represent my country.’
Bridges also said one of her main goals was to make sport inclusive for ‘everybody’.
She said:’ I don’t know if I see myself as a role model (for trans women) but I would like to think what I’m doing is helping other people and making things easier for the people who come after me.
‘That’s the goal to make people feel more comfortable in who they are and hopefully make cycling and sport a more welcome place for everyone – not just trans people or LGBT – for everyone.
‘Sport, from what I’ve seen of it, is not an inclusive space.’