Surfer Bethany Hamilton says she won’t compete in WSL events if new transgender rules are upheld
By Ben Church, CNN
Surfer Bethany Hamilton says she won’t compete at future World Surf League (WSL) events if it upholds its new policy on transgender athletes, saying she wants to see a different division created for transgender people to compete in.
The WSL recently announced it would be adopting the International Surfing Association (ISA) policy on transgender participation, which requires trans-female athletes to maintain a testosterone level of less than five nmol/L for at least 12 months in order to compete in the women’s division.
In a video posted on Instagram Sunday, Hamilton asks, “Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female? Is it as simple as this?”
“I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains,” she said.
Hamilton — a devout Christian – says the new rule “concerns” her as a professional athlete who has competed in the WSL for over 15 years.
The rules allows an athlete who was assigned male at birth, and now identifies as a woman, to compete in women’s events, if their testosterone levels meet the requirements to compete as a woman.
“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 added.
The WSL says the policy change allows the sport to align itself with Olympic guidelines.
“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,” it said in a statement on Monday.
CNN has reached out to the WSL for comment but has not received a reply.
In a separate comment, responding to criticism being made about her video, Hamilton acknowledges this is a difficult subject.
“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,” she wrote.
“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.”
In 2003, Hamilton lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing in Kauai, Hawaii, when she was just 13 years old.
Despite her injuries she quickly returned to the sport, going on to become a national champion and a popular WSL athlete.
“I strive to have love for all of mankind, regardless of any differences,” she said, adding that she wants to “stand up” for others who fear being “ostracized” if they speak out.
“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 or announced? Should there be a conversation?”
She has previously used her platform to speak out about transgender issues in sport and, in her latest video, raised concerns about what she called “male-bodied dominance” in other women’s sports such as running and swimming.
“I think 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,” she said.
“My hope is that if I ever had a daughter who is competing in surfing or any sport, and also for all the aspiring young generation of women, to have a bright and promising opportunity in her ambition to be the best of the best women in her sport.”
In a second video posted to Instagram on Tuesday, Hamilton addressed the backlash she received online after speaking out.
“I knew the hammer of mean and cruel and harshness would be thrown down on me for not going with the flow, for having a different opinion, for being open and sharing my questions, thoughts and my opinion on the new rules,” she said, before claiming she was supported by other female surfers on the tour.
Other WSL surfers posted messages of support in response to the video.
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