Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton says she does not intend to participate in upcoming World Surf League events after the organization announced a change in policies that will allow trans women to compete in women's events.
In two different videos shared to Instagram, Hamilton said she believes she is speaking up for other pro surfer women who fear being "ostracized" for having the same opinions.
The World Surf League this month announced plans to adopt the International Surfing Association’s policy, which requires trans athletes seeking to compete in the women’s division to maintain a testosterone level less than 5 nonomoles per liter (nmol/L) for the previous 12 months.
In her video, Hamilton questioned this policy.
“Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a 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 hormone number? Is it as simple as that?"
Hamilton argued that moving forward with these policies in surfing would allow for “male-bodied dominance” seen in other “women’s sports like running, swimming, and others.”
Multiple studies in recent years have looked at whether transgender athletes have competitive advantages. Joanna Harper, a trans competitive runner and medical physicist, published a first-of-its-kind study in 2015 that looked at eight trans women runners who took treatments to lower their testosterone levels and found they did not perform better in several women's races than they did in men's races. A newer 2021 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, however, conducted fitness tests with 29 trans men and 46 trans women and found that trans women retained an athletic edge over their cisgender peers, even after 12 months on hormone therapy.
Harper, who continues to study athletic performances of transgender people and serves as an advisor to the International Olympic Committee, told OutSports in 2021 that most research, even her own studies, has nuances and conversations should be had in the greater context of sports as a whole.
Until now, Bethany was best known as the professional woman surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack at age 13 and continued to surf anyway
Surfing champion Bethany Hamilton has just announced she will NOT compete in the World Surf League anymore if they allow biological men to surf in the women’s events. She’s already an absolute legend but this stand makes her even more of a legend. Thank you @bethanyhamilton! pic.twitter.com/gF2qa7cD84— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) February 5, 2023
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