In her first public statement since announcing she was quitting competitive cycling last year, Emily Bridges was strident against her critics and threatened to take the matter of trans inclusion to court. | ITV

British cyclist Emily Bridges has been a prominent face of the discussion, and arguments, surrounding transgender participation in competitive sports.

In a television interview with Britain’s ITV News Tuesday, she let it be known that she is prepared to fight bans on trans women in sports competing as women in court on human rights grounds.

“I don’t care if I ever compete again. It’s for other people who want to compete and it’s just about what’s right,” she said in the interview.

“What is normalized is the exclusion of trans people from public life. It has been a gateway for all of that to come about.

“There has been a lot of political pressure to ban us from sport. It reinforces the belief that trans women aren’t women and that they are a threat.”

When asked about the question of an “open” category, a policy that British Cycling and other governing bodies have considered, she questioned safety and fairness of it along with the regulatory realities of elite competition and her place in it.

“That part of my life is over now. If I could compete, this would be a different conversation,” she noted.

“Would it be safe to compete in an open category?” she continued. “For me, I have a past in cycling. I have results and people know me.

“But for someone else who hasn’t competed and she’s trans but is seen by the world as a cis woman, how is it fair to ask her to out herself by competing in an open category? That is not fair and it’s not safe either.”

Bridges has been fighting for her right to compete since coming out in 2020, one year after winning a national championship in her sport. Since then, she has been in an eligibility battle with both British Cycling and Union Cycliste Internationale.

The fight reached a height in 2022 as both governing bodies previously ruled Bridges eligible to compete at the UK National Omnium Championships that year. The event would serve as a qualifier for a place in the 2022 Commonwealth Games and would match Bridges against some of the top track cyclists in the UK, including world championship and Olympic medalists.

Just a week before the championship, the UCI rescinded her eligibility, saying that Bridges was still registered as male. The move was roundly criticized, but was also upheld by British Cycling.

Each later insisted that Bridges’ inclusion would constitute an unfair advantage, claiming research data supported this as they both announced reviews of policy.

Bridges countered with her own data from workouts and races prior to starting transition and after starting a hormone replacement regimen.

The data was made public and was part of an ongoing research study of trans athletes at Loughborough University in the UK.

In 2023, British Cycling and the UCI enacted policies that would keep Bridges and other trans women in the sport, such as American cyclist Austin Killips, out of elite women’s cycling.

In July, the UCI initiated a total competition ban on trans women, prompting Bridges to announce her own retirement from sport.

To this day, Bridges remains frustrated by the state of trans rights in sports and in society. She notably mentioned the recent comments of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made in a Prime Minister’s Questions session when the mother of murdered trans teen Brianna Ghey was at the Houses of Parliament in person February 7.

“It normalizes violence against trans people. At the end of the day, that’s the impact,” said Bridges of both the comments and the tenor against trans athletes. “It’s a scary time to be trans right now.

“You leave the house and you are thinking, are you going to come home?”