• April 23, 2024 6:08 PM

Bethany Hamilton is speaking out against the World Surf League’s newly announced policy that would allow for male-bodied individuals known as transgender women to compete at the highest level in professional surfing against other women.

The Hawaii-based Hamilton is raising questions about the rules change, asking whether other professional surfers were consulted about it beforehand – and wondering where this will lead.

She said on her Instagram account in a video this weekend that is now being widely shared, “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.”

She added, “The World Surf League says they are following the Olympic guidelines.”

Instagram – @bethanyhamilton

She stressed on social media this weekend, “I strive to have love for all of mankind, regardless of any differences.”

But “this concerns me as a professional athlete” who has competed for the past 15-plus years, she added.

“And I feel that I must speak up and stand up” for others who cannot or won’t speak out about this, she said, as they “fear” they might be “ostracized” if they speak out. 

“So – here I go,” she said.

“How is this rule playing out in other sports, like swimming, running and MMA?” she asked.

“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 added.

Bethany Hamilton experienced a shark attack and lost her arm when she was 13 years old – and still managed to make it as a professional surfer. She’s shown here in 2020.
(Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images)

“Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female? Is it as simple as this?”

She also asked, “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?”

She added, “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.”

She also announced, “I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains.”

The World Surf League reportedly announced that it’s adopting the International Surfing Association’s (ISA) transgender policy for all of its tours. 

The change is apparently taking effect immediately.

One of the key changes is as follows: “A surfer assigned male at birth who identifies as a woman and has woman/female on her national identity card or passport is eligible to compete in a men’s event or as a man in a mixed event if she has not met the requirements to compete in a woman’s event (such as maintaining testosterone level less than 5 nmol/l continuously for the previous 12 months).”

In addition, “A surfer assigned male at birth who identifies as a woman and has man/male or ‘other’ or ‘X’ on their national identity card or passport is eligible to compete in a men’s event or as a man in a mixed event,” as the ISA also says on its website.