Emily Bridges says she got threats after Boris Johnson’s transgender sport comment

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Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges (PA)
Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges (PA)

Cyclist Emily Bridges has said she received a torrent of abuse after Boris Johnson commented on trans participation in sport.

The 21-year-old transgender athlete made headlines in March when her attempts to race at the British National Omnium Championships in the women’s category were stopped at the 11th hour by the world governing body UCI.

Asked for an opinion at the time, the prime minister said: “I don’t think biological males should be competing in female sporting events.”

Bridges claimed she then faced “threats of physical violence” which left her feeling “scared”.

The Welsh athlete 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.”

Bridges responded to critics who had criticised her competing in the men’s points race of the British Universities’ Championships a month before the March event.

The cyclist said in hindsight it was maybe the wrong decision but insisted it was made to ensure she remained competitive.

“It probably wasn’t the right thing to do,” Bridges said.

“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”.

The decision meant hopes the cyclist had of competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer were dashed.

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.”

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