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What Happened to Women's Cycling?
How the sport was colonized by mediocre, narcissistic men
On March 13, 2023, in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, Hannah Arensman announced the end of her cycling career, writing:
At my last race at the recent UCI Cyclocross National Championships in the elite women’s category in December 2022, I came in 4th place, flanked on either side by male riders awarded 3rd and 5th places. My sister and family sobbed as they watched a man finish in front of me, having witnessed several physical interactions with him throughout the race.
Additionally, it is difficult for me to think about the very real possibility I was overlooked for an international selection on the US team at Cyclocross Worlds in February 2023 because of a male competitor.
Moving forward, I feel for young girls learning to compete and who are growing up in a day when they no longer have a fair chance at being the new record holders and champions in cycling because men want to compete in our division. I have felt deeply angered, disappointed, overlooked, and humiliated that the rule makers of women’s sports do not feel it is necessary to protect women’s sports to ensure fair competition for women anymore.
Sure enough, a week later, in what has become a very common occurrence, a man named Tiffany Thomas won a cycling event in New York City.
Onlookers are left shaking their heads and asking, “what happened to women’s cycling?”
Arensman was right on the money when she noted that rule makers have not bothered to protect the sport. It is also important to note that they’ve now had decades to do it, but they’ve thrown common sense out the window at almost every turn. A bunch of narcissistic men gladly took advantage of this apathy to use women’s cycling as an opportunity to validate their gender identity.
One of the first to do so was Canadian downhill mountain biker Michelle Dumaresq.
In 2001, Dumaresq entered his first race in British Columbia and won. The next month, he stood at the top of another podium. After complaints from several female athletes, the International Cycling Union actually revoked Dumaresq’s racing license. However, the Canadian Cycling Association lobbied to get it back by appealing to the fact that his birth certificate had been amended to lie and say “female.”
Dumaresq was reinstated as a pro in 2002 and promptly won another race which was protested by riders of both sexes who signed a petition to the race commissioner. The petition was denied and Dumaresq was declared the winner.
Some argue that Dumaresq has the advantage of bigger bones, more testosterone, larger lung capacity, greater aggression-assertiveness, and more muscle mass than any other “natural” women. Dumaresq and some doctors will argue that after seven years of hormone therapy chemical changes within her body have taken away any advantage, and that she has actually lost muscle mass and testosterone.
It then made this very prophetic statement:
Is it fair? The issue is not only ethical, but also one that will plague all sports organizations from this day forward.
Dumaresq continued racing and won the 2006 Canadian Nationals in Whistler, BC. During the medal ceremony, the boyfriend of silver medallist Danika Schroeter jumped on stage and helped Schroeter put on a shirt that said “100% Pure Woman Champ.”
The phrase was a reference to a documentary film about Dumaresq titled 100 Per Cent Woman.
The Canadian Cycling Association suspended Schroeter for three months.
He spared no thought to how many women may have stopped loving the sport because of him.
And, unfortunately, the cycling world didn’t learn from any of this.
Cameron has previously raced with women but “begrudgingly” switched to racing with men after women complained and the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association ruled that he couldn’t be in the female category because he hadn’t had “gender-reassignment surgery.”
Cameron continued racing and amassed 14 top-five finishes in the men’s “A” category, a highly competitive field, over the course of a decade. In 2013, he placed second at the cross nationals. It was obviously the correct category for him to be in.
However, just two years later, USA Cycling insisted that Cameron had to switch to the female category due to the “female” sex designation shown on his driver’s license.
Around the same time, another controversy was brewing in Canada.
In late 2015, a male cyclist named Kristen Worley filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against the International Olympic Committee (IOC), claiming that its anti-doping and gender verification policies were discriminatory and damaging to his health.
Worley’s gripe was that he wanted to keep his testosterone levels higher than the limit set by the IOC to keep his body from entering “an extreme post-menopausal state.”
The IOC argued that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the case and that it should be channeled through the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
Nevertheless, in 2016, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled in Worley’s favor. The ruling was highly significant as, in 2017, it prompted the Ontario Cycling Association, Cycling Canada, and Union Cycliste Internationale—the worldwide cycling governing body—to revise their gender verification policies.
Today, I am satisfied that the sport of cycling in Canada and internationally have committed to help advocate for issues facing XY female athletes. My vision encourages sport and the Olympic movement to do what it is supposed to do best: harmonizing and celebrating through sport the magic and enormity of our human diversity.
By now, men were cropping up in women’s cycling competitions everywhere. In November 2016, male cyclist Jillian Bearden had won the El Tour de Tucson.
Bearden competed in the male category until 2012 as Johnathan. He came back in 2016 as Jillian after the IOC dropped the requirement for men to undergo “sex reassignment surgery” to compete in female sports. This prompted USA Cycling to grant Bearden his racing license.
Remarking on Bearden’s win, the female El Tour third-place finisher said: “I feel bad about saying it but no, I do not think it’s fair play and I question her integrity knowing that she’s going into these events knowing that she is going to be stronger.”
It doesn’t seem that Bearden ever questioned his own integrity. In fact, he justified his participation in women’s sports with the belief that transitioning had made him weaker.
With this statement, Bearden betrayed the fact that he, like so many of his fellow self-centered male athletes who are destroying women’s sports, believes that women are just weaker men. Women aren’t our own unique sex class with our own unique bodies, genetically coded and developed in distinct ways from male bodies—no, simply handicap a man with hormones or surgery, and you’ve got a woman.
Bearden stakes his entire claim to women’s competition on the power of hormones. But, as ridiculous as it is to claim that the only significant difference between a male and female body is the hormonal profile, there was another man waiting in the wings to make an even more ludicrous argument.
In early 2018, Bearden butted heads with none other than Rachel McKinnon, a disgraced former philosophy professor who now goes by “Veronica Ivy.”
USA TODAY reported that the two actually used to be on the same cycling team, but Bearden asked McKinnon to leave the team over the following disagreement:
Bearden agrees with the International Olympic Committee that naturally occurring testosterone gives transgender women an unfair advantage in competition against cisgender women, meaning women who were born female, while McKinnon believes subjecting trans women to testosterone blocking violates their human rights.
Bearden sees trans women who compete with unlimited levels of natural testosterone as dopers and cheaters while McKinnon says looking at the issue that way only furthers the oppression of transgender people.
McKinnon and his intellectually bereft arguments have become notorious in circles that follow this issue. Though he regularly beats much more physically fit women, he refuses to acknowledge that being male confers a physical advantage. Or, if it does, he insists that it is not unfair and babbles something about some women being taller than others. Invariably, he will also accuse anyone who dares to question him of transphobia.
(In 2022, Trevor Noah gave McKinnon the platform of The Daily Show to spew all of his nonsense, and I will make sure that he never lives this down).
McKinnon first appeared on many people’s radars when he stole gold in the female category at the UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championship in late 2018. He repeated the feat again the following year, and he proceeded to publicly berate the second-place finisher for refusing to put her arm around him on the podium.
"Second place kept her distance and put her hand behind her back as her own sign,” McKinnon wrote on Twitter. "Signifying something like poor sportsmanship."
McKinnon’s time as belle of the ball was, blessedly, short-lived. A new man pretending to be a woman soon demanded the attention of the cycling world: Emily Bridges.
Bridges had previously broken the British national junior 25-mile record when competing in the male category. He “came out” as “trans” in 2020, but continued to compete in men’s events until February 2022.
In April of that year, Bridges was set to compete for the first time in an elite female event run by British Cycling. However, at the behest of members and other athletes, British Cycling suspended its relatively recently implemented transgender policy, which meant that Bridges was no longer eligible to compete in the female category.
Finally, some sense was returning to the cycling world.
But, not so fast.
Just a few months later, Bridges stood atop the podium at a ThunderCrit race, having won in the “Lighting” category. Another male, Lily Chant, stood next to him in second place, while the actual female winner took third.
According to its website, ThunderCrit strives to be “one of the most open and inclusive races out there.” This mission prompted a change in racing categories in 2021.
We have created two new race categories – Thunder and Lightning – that take the physical performance of cis-men or cis-women as the starting point of each, and invites those of similar ability to race in that category, regardless of gender.
The “Lightning” category is for “cis-women,” as well as “non-binary people” and “trans men and women whose physical performance aligns most closely with cis-women.”
ThunderCrit also adds that “cis-people cannot choose their racing category. Cis-men will race in the Thunder category, cis-women will race in the Lightning category.”
What they really did was allow men who claim special lady feelings into the category that women have no choice but to be in. And, of course, the men picked this category. And, of course, they won.
Furthermore, in February of this year, both the male and female categories of the Capital Enduro mountain bike race in New Zealand were won by men. The first-place male finisher in the men’s category won by just 8 seconds over the silver medallist, while the first-place male in the women’s category was over a minute faster than the woman who took second place.
British Cycling may have come to its senses, but the rest of the sport is clearly content to continue discriminating against women on behalf of men with “gender identities.”
So, what happened to women’s cycling?
Cowardice. Stupidity. The placing of politics and ideology before basic fairness. The elevation of the feelings of a small number of men over the feelings, opportunities, and experiences of every single woman in the field. That’s what happened, and that’s what continues to happen.
And don’t forget that all of this is mainly in the service of these men’s fetishes. As I was researching the men mentioned in this piece, I noticed that many of them were open about their histories of crossdressing, usually in their mom’s or sister’s clothes. Most were clearly heterosexual, with mentions of wives, girlfriends, and even children born from these relationships.
These men are mostly if not entirely autogynephiles, and affirming them as “women” means you are taking part in their fetish. This is exactly what the entire cycling world is doing.
Autogynephilia also often goes hand-in-hand with narcissism, which is evident in the complete lack of regard that these men show for the women whose team spots, podiums, and opportunities they are stealing.
Hardworking female athletes are being thrown under the bus so that a few men can play out their fetish before a cheering crowd, and that’s a sad state of affairs.
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