'Biological sex matters,' Sajid Javid says on trans cyclist Emily Bridges

Sajid Javid has said "it's biological sex that matters" when it comes to transgender people participating in sporting competitions.

When asked about trans cyclist Emily Bridges' claim that she received hate-filled threats, including the promise of extreme violence if she ever competed in a women's race, the health secretary said we "mustn't confuse" sex with gender.

Bridges told ITV News how abuse towards her snowballed after Boris Johnson shared his own views on trans athletes' place in sport.

Emily Bridges. Credit: DIVA magazine

The prime minister, asked in April to explain his decision not to include trans people in the government's proposed ban on conversion therapy, gave an unprompted opinion on trans athletes.

"I don't think that biological men should be competing in female sporting events," he said, adding, "maybe that’s a controversial thing but it just seems to me to be sensible."

Mr Javid echoed the prime minister's words on Wednesday, telling ITV News: "This is a sensitive issue. It should always be approached with compassion.

"But as for what the prime minister has said when it comes to sporting competitions, I would think rightly that the vast, vast majority of people would agree that when you have competitions that are based on sex, male and female, we mustn't confuse that with gender, and it's biological sex that matters."

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Elite athlete Bridges, who was assigned male at birth before transitioning, was declared ineligible to race at the British National Omnium Championships in April.

The 21-year-old, from Cwmbran in south Wales, said she had been far below the testosterone limit required to compete, but was told two days before that she would not be allowed.

In a statement posted on Twitter by her mother at the time, Bridges explained how she has been "relentlessly harassed and demonised by those who have a specific agenda to push."

She went on to say "no one should have to choose between being who they are, and participating in the sport that they love".

She added: "I have been judged despite a total lack of evidence against me, purely because I am trans."

Emily Bridges. Credit: DIVA Magazine

On the prime minister's comments, Bridges said: "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."

'The response was as expected, I had threats of physical violence made against me,' says cyclist Emily Bridges after PM's comments

Some campaigners say Bridges has an unfair advantage due to being assigned male at birth.

To them, she says: "I empathise with where you're coming from. I empathise with why you feel potentially threatened by my inclusion; you might feel like the patriarchal structures that govern cycling and society in general, it’s another thing that's being pushed on you and it's another thing you've got to fight against.

"But those same structures those same attitudes are the same things that pushed me down, pushed me into the closet, that I couldn't be myself.

"So, I would ask if you can empathise with me, because I can empathise with you?"