Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton has stated that she will boycott the World Surf League if they do not change the new transgender policy that will allow biological males to compete against women.
Hamilton spoke out about the issue in a video posted to her Instagram account.
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“‘Today I want to address the news that the World Surf League has officially made the rule that male-bodied individuals known as transgender athletes can officially compete in the women’s division,” Hamilton began, adding that the league has said that they are following the Olympic guidelines.
The new policy reads as follows:
In order to for an athlete who was assigned male at birth and whose gender has changed and identifies as a woman, the surfer must satisfy the International Surfing Association Medical Commission that her serum testosterone concentration has been less than 5 nmol/L continuously for a period of the previous 12 months and secondly, meets any other requirements reasonably set by the Executive Committee and/or Medical Commission.
“While I address this issue, I want to be clear, I strive to have love for all of mankind, regardless of any differences,” the iconic surfer continued. “But this concerns me as a professional athlete that has been competing in the World Surf League events for the past 15-plus years. And I feel that I must speak up, and I must stand up for those in positions that feel that they cannot say something about this.”
Hamilton said, “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 … so, here I go.”
The surfer then listed a series of questions that she has about the policy change.
“How is this rule playing out in other sports, like swimming, running and MMA?” Hamilton asked. “Have any of the current surfers in the World Surf League been asked what their thoughts and opinions are on this new rule before it was passed?”
Hamilton continued, “Should there be a conversation with the 17 women and all of the men on tour prior to a rule change such a this?”
“Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female? Is it as simple as this?”
The champion surfer also asked who is pushing for the change and if it betters the sport, specifically for women.
“How did whoever decided these hormone rules come to the conclusion that twelve months of testing testosterone make it a fair and legal switch?” Hamilton asked. “Why is the WSL’s statement about trans women competing with women and yet there’s no mention of converted women competing with men?”
Hamilton suggested that she believes the best solution “would be to create a different division so that all can have a fair opportunity to showcase their passion and talent – and I think it’s really hard to imagine what the future of women’s surfing will be like in 15-20 years down the road if we move forward allowing this major change.”
American surf legend Kelly Slater suggested the same, saying “make a trans division and we don’t have this confusion,” according to a report from Beach Grit.
“Slater bandmate Peter King waded into the trans-athlete imbroglio saying, ‘Stay out of women’s sports where you miraculously win after being an average performing man. Women’s sports is not a backup plan where you can’t win a trophy (And $) in the men’s division. Leagues like WSL and sponsors like Red Bull will you now stand up to this now instead of harming women’s sports?'” the report said.
Hamilton went further, stating that she will boycott the league if the policy stands.
“I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains,” Hamilton said.
The league has left the door open for changing the policy at some point.
“The WSL is working hard to balance equity and fairness and it’s important for a policy to be in place,” WSL Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer told The Inertia. “We recognize that the policy may need to evolve over time as we get feedback and see new research in the field.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to Slater as Australian.