Pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton is speaking out against a new World Surf League (WSL) policy allowing biological men who maintain a low testosterone level to compete in the women’s division.
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“I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains,” Hamilton said in an Instagram video posted over the weekend.
The surfer, who lost an arm in an infamous 2003 shark attack, has seen her story told through movies and books, including the hit 2011 film, “Soul Surfer.”
A Christian, Hamilton has also openly shared her faith over the years.
In her latest video, the pro-surfer addressed the WSL’s policy to allow “male-bodied individuals” to “officially compete in the women’s division.”
Hamilton said she has competed in the league for the past 15 years and is deeply concerned about the development. Watch her comments:
“This concerns me as a professional athlete,” she said, noting there is no animus in her choice to speak out on the matter. “I strive to have love for all of mankind, regardless of any differences.”
Hamilton specifically said she believes there are women competing who don’t agree with the policy but don’t feel they can speak out due to fear of retribution.
“I think many of the girls on tour are not in support with this new rule, and they fear being ostracized if they speak up,” she said. “So, here I go.”
Hamilton proceeded to detail questions she has about the WSL policy, including how these rules are already playing out in other sports. She pondered why female and male surfers in the league purportedly weren’t consulted before the decision was made.
Beyond that, Hamilton also asked if hormone levels are the appropriate way to measure fitness for biological males to compete against females.
“Who is pushing for this huge change?” she asked, noting she struggles to imagine the future of surfing if these policies remain in place. “We are seeing glimpses of male-bodied dominance in women’s sports.”
The WSL policy, which goes into effect immediately, follows the rules of the International Surfing Association and requires biological males to keep testosterone levels under 5 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) for 12 months to compete against women.
“The WSL is working hard to balance equity and fairness, and it’s important for a policy to be in place,” Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL chief of sport, told The Inertia. “We recognize that the policy may need to evolve over time as we get feedback and see new research in the field.”
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