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.
At the upcoming Tour de France I've been invited to work with ITV4 to help the commentary team bring some first-hand insight into just what's involved in competing at the sport's highest level and, having been privileged to see how Grand Tours are won and lost, it’s a very exciting prospect. To be asked to be one of their experts for certain key moments is a sign that we have moved on in terms of wishing to really understand the complexities involved in cycling, and I’m keen to share my experience of how endlessly fascinating and demanding professional bike racing can be.
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.
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.
Thankfully gender issues are no longer a subject of such ignorance and intolerance, there's a much better acceptance and understanding. The steps taken over a prolonged period under the watchful eye of the medical profession to complete the transition from one gender to another can be difficult and are always only taken after much soul searching and anguish. And, although the end result is seen as a happier, more stable place, the emotions encountered to get there make for some very vulnerable periods.
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. Thankfully the people in my family who I cherish have since matured and grown into strong and independent individuals, therefore the need to protect them has lessened. This, combined with their support, encouragement and the shift in modern society's attitudes, means that this will be a step forward for everyone.
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.
I really am delighted to have accepted this new challenge with ITV4; 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.