‘Soul Surfer’ Picks Apart League’s New Transgender Policy With Nine Common-Sense Questions

[Screenshot/Twitter/Robby Starbuck]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Surfing champion Bethany Hamilton tore into the World Surf League’s (WSL) new transgender policy, which would allow some biological men to compete against women, in a video posted Sunday.

The WSL released its new policy in October requiring biological men to maintain a testosterone level of less than 5 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) for 12 months in order to qualify for a women’s competition. Hamilton said she will no longer compete if these rules are upheld in a Sunday video.

“I think many of the girls currently on tour are not in support with this new rule, and they fear being ostracized if they speak up,” she said.

Hamilton lost her left arm in a 2003 shark attack but was later able to return to professional surfing. The 2011 film “Soul Surfer” is based on her memoir of the same name.

She addressed her many concerns regarding the policy with nine questions directed at the WSL. She questioned the consequences of this rule in other sports and whether surfers have been asked about their position on the rule. She also cast doubt on whether an individual’s hormonal levels are an accurate predictor of fairness in competition. (RELATED: Several Female Athletes Support GOP Ban On Men In Women’s Sports) 

“Should there be a conversation with the 17 women and all of the men on tour prior to a rule change such as this?” she asked. “Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female? Is it as simple as this? … How did whoever decided these hormone rules come to the conclusion that twelve months of testing testosterone make it a fair and legal switch?” she continued.

She called on the WSL to create a separate division for transgender athletes in order to ensure fairness for all competitors.

“I think it’s really hard 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. “But we are seeing glimpses of male-bodied dominance in women’s sports like running, swimming and others. My hope is that 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,” Hamilton concluded.

A growing number of biological males are entering and dominating women’s competitions as athletic leagues scramble to accommodate with transgender individuals’ identities. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) allowed biological male Lia Thomas to compete in the Women’s Championships in March 2022, where Thomas won the 500 free event by 1.75 seconds.

Following the Thomas uproar, the governing body for international swimming — FINA — banned nearly all biological males from competing in women’s swimming competitions in June. A male hoping to compete against women must transition before the age of 12 or before showing symptoms of male puberty.

Nicole Silverio

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