A female cyclist who gave up her dream of competing at the Olympics after losing to a biological male has said the experience ‘hurt on a million different levels’.
Hannah Arensman, 24, quit cyclocross after also receiving abuse from a left-wing, Antifa gun club which protested at her final race after claiming ‘there’s a massive TERF [trans-exclusionary radical feminists] problem in cycling’.
Arensman is a 35-time winner on the national cyclocross circuit and previously opened up in heartbreaking detail about her decision to leave the sport, saying the inclusion of trans competitors meant she would ‘lose no matter how hard I train’.
She quit the sport after losing out on a podium spot to trans rider Austin Killips in the Women Elite category at the 2022 National Cyclocross Championships in December. It would be her final competitive race.
In her latest comments about the decision, she said: ‘There are a million different levels where it hurts.’
Hannah Arensman, 24, quit cyclocross after losing out to a trans rider for a podium spot at the national championships in December 2022
Trans rider Austin Killips beat Arensman to a podium place at the 2022 National Cyclocross Championships in December
Arensman’s experience comes amid the deepening row about the inclusion of trans women in female sporting categories. She has now also chosen to advocate for protected categories for women.
She told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I realized that if an opportunity presented itself to say something on behalf of other women, then I would take it.
‘This has gone on long enough, it has gone far enough. It should never have reached this point, it should never have been allowed. Someone has to take responsibility.
‘This is not fair sport, and the governing bodies, who should have made the rules at the beginning, need to realize it. The very people who should be protecting our sport are not doing so.’
Arensman’s final race was also marred by demonstrations from the John Brown Gun Club, a self-described ‘leftist gun-rights group’ which ‘arms itself to defend against far-right violence’.
Masked members of the group attended the race to ‘support two trans athletes racing in the Elite Women’s Division’, according to a tweet which included a photograph of their protest.
The group also celebrated Arensman’s resignation and said: ‘Hope we helped her find the door. She won’t be missed.’
Speaking about the toxic nature of the debate around trans inclusion, Arensman said: ‘It just adds to the complete disrespect. When you have to use physical violence to keep other people in check, so you can do whatever you want, there’s something seriously wrong. It’s a form of tyranny.’
Killips allegedly shoved Arensman’s during her final race. Arensman said: ‘I fully expect that in cycling, as a full-body contact sport, you’re going to get hit at some point. But when you have someone born a man run into you, over 6ft tall, it’s quite different’
Footage from the race itself also purports to show Killips shove Arensman as the pair crossed paths on the course.
Arensman said: ‘I fully expect that in cycling, as a full-body contact sport, you’re going to get hit at some point.
‘But when you have someone born a man run into you, over 6ft tall, it’s quite different. I tried to keep racing, not to let it get into my head at all. That one instance caught on video felt unnecessary, though.
‘At best, it was a complete lack of handling skills. Women who have been doing this for 15 or 20 years have built up lots of technical ability. But there’s only a certain point we can get to with our muscles. Beyond that, we can’t compete.’
Arensman also criticized the possibility that Killips could go on to compete at the Olympics, adding: ‘A guy, even if mediocre in the men’s field, is more than capable of breaking records and making podiums in women’s races.’
Her comments also follow another controversy in cycling after a transgender competitor who won a women’s race category was slammed after wondering why no one joined them on the podium.
SiriusXM host Megyn Kelly led the backlash after Lesley Mumford, a 46 year-old who transitioned in 2014, won the 2023 Desert Gravel Co2Ut (Colorado to Utah) race in her 40-49. Mumford, a former sheriff’s deputy, posted a photo of herself on Instagram standing alone on the podium with the caption: ‘I have no idea why so many people bailed before the podiums, but they did.’
Killips went on to win the women’s category of the Tour of the Gila event in New Mexico
Austin Killips pictured on the podium after the women’s elite race of the ‘Kasteelcross’ cyclocross cycling event, race 7/8 in the ‘Exact Cross’ competition, Saturday 21 January 2023 in Zonnebeke, Belgium
Experts, researchers and current and former athletes have claimed that trans women maintain a physical advantage over their female counterparts even after treatment.
The issue gained international attention in 2022 when swimmer Lia Thomas became an NCAA women’s champion after only moderate success as a male.
Tommy Lundberg, a lecturer in physiology at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and leading researcher on the subject, previously told DailyMail.com: ‘The most important thing is whether or not you have benefited from male development and male puberty and if you’ve done that, you’re going to have advantages you cannot undo later.’
Lundberg’s landmark 2021 study with Emma Hilton, a developmental biologist at the University of Manchester in the UK, found that men typically have a 10-50 percent performance edge over women.
After a trans woman has completed 12 months of testosterone suppression, the loss of ‘lean body mass, muscle area and strength typically amounts to approximately 5%’, according to the paper.
‘The muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed,’ the study said.