• 1984 'King of the Mountain' Phillippa York comes as as a transgender woman in essay for Cycling Central. (Phillippa York / Cycling Central.)Source: Phillippa York / Cycling Central.
Philippa York, who won the 'King of the Mountains' competition in the 1984 Tour De France in (finishing fourth overall), has now publicly come out as a transgender woman at the age of 58.
Chloe Sargeant

10 Jul 2017 - 1:14 PM  UPDATED 10 Jul 2017 - 1:14 PM

Philippa York, 58, is regarded as one of the greatest British cyclists.

She won the 'King of the Mountains' competition in the Tour de France of 1984, coming in fourth overall that year. She was the first rider from an English-speaking country to win the Mountains classification in the TDF. She also came second in the '86/'86 Tours of Spain, and second in the '87 Giro d'Italia. 

Last week, CyclingNews.com provided an introduction to York - who has a long been a contributor to the website - as a preface to a a moving, personally-written statement about her gender transition. 

"Cyclingnews would like to introduce Philippa York. Philippa has been a regular contributor on the site for a number of years and has written under a previous name, Robert Millar."

In the personal essay, York comes out publicly as a trans woman, explaining that she has hidden her gender from the media and the public for many years.

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“Over the last year and a half, I went from my trans identity being something I was in touch with and worked through in one way or another, to suddenly this shift where it’s on the front burner. Now it's time to become a whole person.”

"The mention of progress and moving on brings me to a much more personal subject concerning the journey I, and those around me, embarked upon at the start of this millennium. The outcome of that journey has meant that for a considerable time now I have lived as Philippa."

York's gender transition is a topic that has been subject to much poorly-handled tabloid coverage, which she says was harmful to her, and her loved ones. 

"While there has been some speculation concerning my gender over the past decade, perhaps it'll now be better understood why unwelcome and unasked for intrusions into that transition have been damaging not only to myself but to those I love.

"As much as various articles and blogs have been published using my former identity of Robert, well that was then and this is now. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the different organisations and those 'in the know' for guarding my privacy as long as they have."

"Thankfully gender issues are no longer a subject of such ignorance and intolerance, there's a much better acceptance and understanding."

York goes on to speak about her own experiences with the way that society has developed and become more accepting and understanding of transgender people. 

"As much as I've guarded my privacy over the years there are a few, I believe obvious, reasons to why I haven't had a public "image" since I transitioned. Gratifyingly, times have moved on from ten years ago when my family, friends and I were subjected to the archaic views and prejudice that some people and certain sections of the tabloid media held.

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"No matter if you pass or don't, if you don't want to or don't care. No matter how your gender manifests, you are worthy of love just as you are."

"Thankfully gender issues are no longer a subject of such ignorance and intolerance, there's a much better acceptance and understanding."

York writes the essay as an introduction as she accepts a role with ITV4 as a commentator for the 2017 Tour de France, which will be her first role in the public eye since her transition. 

"I’m looking forward to the racing immensely and in terms of my personal and professional development I think this is the right time to return to a more active role in cycling too – the sport I've always loved."

You can watch extensive coverage of the 2017 Tour de France on SBS On Demand

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