- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton responded Tuesday to the backlash she received from publicly opposing the World Surf League’s plans to let transgender women compete alongside biological women.

“Going into this, I knew the hammer of mean and cruel and harshness would be thrown down on me for not going with the flow,” Hamilton, 32, said in an Instagram post.

She also said, “From what I know, this is not supported by the majority of women currently competing on the tour.” Hamilton defended her competitors as not being hateful or transphobic for having that stance.

Her video Tuesday was the follow-up to her announcing her boycott of the World Surf League over the weekend.    

The WSL said in its own statement Monday that the rule change was done to align itself with the International Surfing Association, which would allow surfing to be an Olympic sport.

ISA’s policy requires trans-female athletes to maintain a testosterone level of less than five nanomoles/liter for at least 12 months in order to compete in the women’s division.

“The WSL is working to balance equity and fairness, and we will continue to evaluate the policy in the months and years ahead as more research, information and feedback are available,” the organizing body’s statement read.

In her video, Hamilton questioned if “hormone level is an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female,” adding that “male-bodied dominance” has already come in women’s sports such as running and swimming.

She suggested the league make its own division for transgender athletes as an alternative.

Hamilton is famous for losing her left arm in 2003 when she was attacked by a shark while surfing in Hawaii. She was just 13 at the time.

She’s competed in the WSL since 2008 and ranked 20th on the Women’s Championship Tour.

“I think it’s really hard to imagine the future of what women’s surfing will be like in 15-20 years down the road if we move forward allowing this major change,” Hamilton said in the Instagram post Sunday announcing her boycott.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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