Bethany Hamilton says she will boycott World Surf League events because of policies that allow trans women to compete


Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton has said she does not intend to participate in upcoming World Surf League events after the organization announced a policy change that will allow transgender women to compete in women’s events.

In two different videos shared on Instagram this week, Hamilton saying she believes she is speaking for other professional female surfers who fear being “left out” for holding the same views.

The World Surfing League announced plans this month to adopt the Policy of the International Surfing Associationwhich requires trans athletes seeking to compete in the women’s division to maintain a testosterone level below 5 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for the preceding 12 months.

In his video, Hamilton questioned this policy.

“Is a hormone level an honest and accurate description of whether someone is male or female? Is it as simple as this?» she asked.

In her follow-up video, she questioned the policy again: “Am I just a number on hormones? It’s as simple as that?»

Hamilton argued that moving forward with these policies in surfing would allow for the «male body dominance» seen in other «female sports such as running, swimming and others».

Multiple studies in recent years have looked at whether transgender athletes have competitive advantages. Joanna Harpera competitive runner and medical physicist who is transgender, published a one-of-a-kind study in 2015 that looked at eight trans runners who took treatments to lower their testosterone levels and found that they performed no better in several races than women who did in men’s races.

However, a more recent 2021 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine conducted fitness tests on 29 trans men and 46 trans women and found that trans women retained an athletic advantage over their cisgender peers, even after 12 months. of hormone therapy.

Harper, who continues to study the athletic performance of transgender people and serves as an advisor to the International Olympic Committee, told OutSports in 2021 that most research is nuanced, including his own studies, and said conversations need to be held in the broader context of sports as a whole.

The debate over trans athletes competing in women’s sports made headlines last year when lia thomasa trans woman, participated and won an NCAA swimming championship for his school, the University of Pennsylvania, where he previously competed on the men’s team. Additionally, in 2021, trans runner CeCe Telfer was banned from competing in the women’s 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics for failing to keep her testosterone levels below the required 5 nonomoles per liter over a 12-month span. , according to World Athletics. guidelines.

Transgender athletes have been allowed to participate in the Olympics since 2004, but until the Tokyo Games, none had done so openly, The Associated Press reported at the time.

Regarding the sport of surfing, BuzzFeed News singled out surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson, the first openly trans woman to win the women’s open in Australia in May 2022, as the impetus for the WSL to implement this policy on trans surfers.

Hamilton, known for her memoir «Soul Surfer» and for losing her left arm in a shark attack in 2003 only to return to the sport, concluded one of her Instagram videos with the suggestion that a separate division be created for trans women. «so that everyone may have a fair chance.»

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