Don’t poke Momma Bear — especially with misinformation and lies about her daughter.
The mother of Emily Bridges, the 19-year-old champion British cyclist who came out as transgender in October 2020, responded recently to anti-trans activists sullying her daughter’s name.
Last month, British Cycling announced it was launching a five-week consultation on its transgender participation policy. The organization is soliciting input from U.K. LGBTQ organizations, such as Stonewall and Gender Intelligence, as well as groups opposed to trans participation in sports, including Fair Play for Women.
British Cycling released its first policy regarding trans inclusion in October.
“Somebody claiming to be a ‘British Cycling Coach’ is once again whipping up rhetoric about my daughter, cyclist Emily Bridges, by promoting misinformation and lies,” Sandy Bridges tweeted. “Their objective , it would appear, is to whip up hysteria by using this misinformation, and then encouraging people to cut and paste a template response to British Cycling’s Consultation on their transgender policy.”
Sandy refutes the false rumor that Emily has been selected for the Tokyo Olympics, insisting her daughter isn’t receiving special treatment. She just wants to compete like everybody else.
In response to a story about Emily Bridges in Pink News, The British Kicking Council tweeted that it’s also faced smear campaigns since announcing its own consultation on trans participation.
We're in a similar boat, having launched a consultation if our own several months ago - it took maybe two days before we started getting inundated with abuse. Ironically one of the fastest turnarounds we've ever had on any of our posts! We then got more on Trans Day of Visibility— British Kickboxing Council (BKC) (@thebkc) April 4, 2021
Emily Bridges started cycling when she was nine years old, and quickly experienced success. She won her first silver medal at junior nationals when she was 16, and took home two silvers at the national track championships that August. But while she was winning on the track, she was battling herself off of it.
In her coming-out essay, Bridges says her mental health kept deteriorating, even as her medal count increased.
“I was in a bad way,” she wrote on SkySports. “I told my coach that I was suffering from depression and I got the help and support that I needed, but I didn’t talk about my gender identity as I was scared the cycling world might find out.”
Bridges continued to win, capturing her first national title in August 2019. Then, she competed in the World Junior Championships in Germany. All the while, her mind was working against her.
During this time, Bridges, who was already experimenting with gender nonconformity, made the decision: she would start to transition by the end of 2020. She came out to a few people during lockdown, before sharing her big announcement to the world on National Coming Out Day.
Over the last six months, Bridges says she’s felt an “immense weight being lifted off her shoulders.” She’s enjoyed the love.
“I got so much support and love from the vast majority of people, which I have genuinely been overwhelmed by,” she wrote on Instagram March 31 to commemorate Trans Day of Visibility.
In that post, Bridges also acknowledges the vitriol that trans people and athletes face around the world. She pledges to keep fighting.
“To all other trans people, you are loved more than you know, and things are getting better,” she writes.
As Bridges acknowledges, the war against trans athletes is reaching an apex all around the world. Four states in the U.S. took action to ban transgender participation in sports just this past month, joining Idaho last year. But with strong women like Bridges and her mom fighting for equality, the side advocating for inclusion appears in good hands.