May 26, 2023 - 4:45pm

You can’t always get what you want. It’s something most people learn by the time they’re adults, which is just as well. Existing in a world where someone has a tantrum every time their wishes are thwarted is exhausting, especially when other people have had enough of their sense of entitlement. It must be hell right now, in other words, to be a trans activist.

The transgender cyclist Emily Bridges certainly thinks so. For some time now, male athletes have been trying to shoulder their way into women’s sports, and British Cycling is the latest organisation to recognise that it’s inherently unfair. It has banned trans women, who were born male, from racing against female riders in competitive events. Some female athletes feel it doesn’t go far enough, because there won’t be protection at non-competitive levels of the sport, but it’s progress of a sort.

Not as far as Bridges is concerned, however. In a spectacular hissy fit, Bridges has accused British Cycling of “furthering a genocide” against trans people. It is a “violent act”, carried out by an organisation “directly funded by a state that ships vulnerable refugees to Rwanda”. Bridges can no longer make plans for the future because “I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to live that long”. 

Can we back up here? No one is preventing Bridges or anyone else from taking part in elite cycling races, as long as they compete in the category compatible with their sex. Using words like “genocide” is profoundly offensive to the descendants of Jews who died in concentration camps during the Second World War, the Tutsi minority murdered in Rwanda in 1994 or the Muslim men bundled into mass graves at Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia a year later. 

The comparison is nauseating, and could only have been made by someone so self-obsessed that they’ve lost all sense of perspective. Women are murdered at a rate of between two and three every week, yet we’ve managed to campaign against a failing criminal justice system without making facile comparisons with massacres in other countries. 

But claiming victim status is a core tactic of the gender cult, which depends on hyperbole to disguise the fact that its aim is to allow a group of entitled men to do whatever they like, including destroying women’s sport.

In the last few days, the aims and tactics of trans activists have come under unprecedented scrutiny. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has paused an inquiry into allegations against its chair, Baroness Falkner, after they were described as an “attempted coup” by activist civil servants. Now the governing body of elite cycling has joined other sports organisations in protecting women’s events, which threatened to become dominated by male-bodied athletes.

It marks a welcome return to what used to be normal practice until society caved in to the extraordinary demands of a bunch of extremists. 

Bridges’s meltdown is what happens when people who’ve endlessly been told how brave and stunning they are suddenly discover that they have to obey rules, like everyone else. Behaving like an angry toddler exposes the childish narcissism at the heart of trans activism, which has always sought to conflate even the mildest opposition with hate speech and genocide. 

Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She has been Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board since 2013. Her book Homegrown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists was published in 2019.