US female surfing icon slams World Surf League for allowing trans-identified biological males to compete against women

"I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains," said Bethany Hamilton.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Bethany Hamilton, the American professional surfer famed for surviving a shark attack at the of 13 and going on to compete professionally with one arm, has taken to social media to speak out against the World Surf League’s newly announced policy that would allow biological males to compete against women in the highest levels of surfing.

In a Saturday video posted to her Instagram account, Hamilton said that she would boycott the World Surf League if they go forward with adopting the rule.

According to The Intertia, The World Surf League has announced that it will adopt the International Surfing Association’s rules on transgender athlete participation, which states that biological males need to maintain a testosterone level below 5 nmol/L continuously for 12 months to be eligible to compete in the women’s league.

Hamilton began her video by stating, "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, and I feel that I must speak up and stand up for those in a position that may feel they cannot say something about this."

Hamilton said she believes that "many of the girls currently on tour are not in support with this new rule and they fear being ostracized if they speak up."

Hamilton continued to pose a number of questions to consider in regard to the rule change, including"how is this rule playing in other sports like swimming, running, MMA," have any current league surfers been asked about their opinions on the rule, is a hormone level and honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female?"

"Is it as simple as this? Who is pushing for this huge change? Does this better the sport of surfing? Is this better for the woman 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 asked.

Hamilton also questioned why the rule change only addressed biological males who identify as women, and not biological females that identify as men.

"I personally think that the best solution would be to create a different division so that all can have a fair opportunity to showcase their passion and talent," she continued.

"And I think it’s really hard to imagine what the future of women’s surfing willbe like in 15 to 20 years down the road if we move forward, allowing this major change, but we are seeing glimpses of male-bodied dominance in women's sports like running, swimming, and others."

Hamilton added that if she were to have a daughter that competed in surfing, and for all young aspiring female surfers, she hopes that they have "a bright and promising opportunity in her ambition to be the best of the best woman in her sport."

"I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains," she concluded.

In the comment section of the video, Hamilton explained, "I was messaging with a friend who is apart of the LGTQ community and I really don’t think at this point there is a solution that will please everyone. There are different world views and that is part of life. I may not have the perfect answer. But I do feel the way I do and will continue to stand firm in what I shared here."

She added in a comment that she "mentioned Testosterone because that is how the Olympics and World Surf League decide if you can compete as a women."

Hamilton received support from other athletes standing up against rules like this in the world of surfing and other sports, including skateboarder Taylor Silverman.

"I’m a skateboarder who’s been impacted by males in female sports. I can not even express to you how much it means to see another female athlete in board sports take a stand," Silverman wrote, adding "THANK YOU BETHANY!!!!!"

Fellow American surfer Shane Dorian wrote, "Speak your truth ! Thank you for being brave enough to stand up for what you believe. Don’t listen to people who hurl the word transphobic at anyone who’s beliefs don’t align perfectly with theirs. These are complicated problems with no clear solution. Regardless, there many people who love and support the trans community who agree with you on these issues. Respect."

American alpine ski racer and Olympic gold medalist added, I support you Bethany. Thanks for speaking up for all women and girls out there. Those are all interesting questions to navigate this difficult topic and let's hope we can keep fighting for the future of womens sports."

Riley Gaines, the female swimmer who tied with UPenn biological male swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA championships last year, and was told that Thomas would be given the trophy on the podium, wrote, "THANK YOU for using your platform to share this. I can't express how inspiring this is."


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