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Christian pro-surfer refuses to compete under new transgender policy

by Heather Preston
Bethany Hamilton thumb.png - Banner image
Bethany Hamilton/Instagram

Christian pro-surfer refuses to compete under new transgender policy

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton has spoken out against the World Surfing League's (WSL) new rules which allow transgender females to compete in the women's division.

Speaking on Instagram - the 32-year-old athlete who lost her left arm following a shark attack - said she felt the need to speak up on behalf of those who share her view but fear they would be ostracised if sharing it.

"While I address this issue, I want to be clear that I strive to have love for all of mankind, regardless of any differences. But this concerns me as a professional athlete that has been competing in the World Surf League events for the past 15+ years.

"I think many of the girls currently on tour are not in support with this new rule, and they fear being ostracised if they speak up.”

On Monday 6th February the WSL announced that it has adopted the International Surfing Association (ISA) policy on transgender participation which would allow transgender athletes to choose which category they would like to compete in.

The eligibility of a surfer to compete under this rule would be subject to compliance with the ISA Transgender Policy - which dictates that transgender women may compete in the female category if their testosterone level is less than five nanomoles per litre for 12 months.

It stated: "The WSL is working to balance equity and fairness, and we will continue to evaluate the policy in the months and years ahead as more research, information, and feedback are available."

This new policy is also in line with the Olympic guidelines.

In an online video Hamilton challenged how this rule is being played out in other sports and questioned whether there should be a discussions and opportunities for athletes to give their opinions prior to policy being introduced.

"Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female? Is it as simple as this?" she asked in her video.

"Who is pushing for this huge change? Does this better the sport of surfing? Is this better for the women in surfing? If so, how? 

"How did whoever decided these hormone rules come to the conclusion that 12 months of testing testosterone make it a fair and legal switch?"

Hamilton goes on to suggest that a separate division would ensure that all people "can have a fair opportunity to showcase their passion and talent."

"It's really hard to imagine what the future of women's surfing will be like in 15 to 20 years down the road if we move forward allowing this major change.

"I personally won't be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains."

Following backlash to her statement online, Hamilton released a second video in which she addressed the "hateful" comments she has received, saying this kind of response is why others holding similar views to her remain silent.

"Now all the ladies see me taking this public and see what a hateful and cruel world it can be, where people sit behind their screens and instead of having a thoughtful debate or conversation, they choose to spew awful things and tell you to be quiet.

"To me, that is a scary world, to shut up debate and conversation. I believe that is very wrong."

The WSL said it adopted the policy "with aspirations for all of WSL’s disciplines to be included in the Olympics".

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