Surfer Bethany Hamilton Speaks Out Against World Surf League’s Decision to Allow ‘Male-Bodied’ Individuals to Compete Against Women

Image: @bethanyhamilton/Twitter

Surfer Bethany Hamilton rose to fame after her remarkable recovery from a shark attack when she was thirteen years old.   Her story was dramatized in the movie “Soul Surfer.” She is the author of several inspiring books and a mother to three young sons.

Hamilton took to Instagram to address an announcement from the World Surf League allowing  ‘male-bodied’ individuals, transgender women, to compete against women in professional surfing.

In the video, Hamilton says,

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.

The World Surf League says they are following the Olympic guidelines.

While I address this issue, I want to be clear.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 plus years. And I feel that I must speak up and I must stand up for those in position that feel that they cannot say something about this.

I think many of the girls currently on tour are not in support with this new tule and they fear being ostracized if they speak up…so, here I go.

Questions I have that I want to consider with you. How is this rule playing out in other sports, like swimming, running and MMA?

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 with the 17 women and all of the men on the tour prior to a rule change such as this?

Is a hormone level an 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 women in surfing? If so, how?

How did, whoever decided these hormone rules, come to the conclusion that twelve months of testing testosterone make it a fair and legal switch? Why is the WSL’s statement, about trans women competing with women and yet there’s no mention of converted women competing with 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 – 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.

But, we are seeing glimpses of male bodied dominance in women’s sports like running, swimming, and others. My hope is, if I ever have 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 woman in her sport.

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


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Thanks for sharing!