Bethany Hamilton, the professional surfer who lost her arm in a 2003 shark attack, has expressed her dissatisfaction with the World Surf League (WSL) policy allowing biological men who maintain a low testosterone level to compete in the women’s division.
Hamilton, who has seen her story told through movies and books, including the 2011 hit film “Soul Surfer,” has been a competitor in the WSL for 15 years. She expressed her views in an Instagram video over the weekend. See the video below.
The policy, which went 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.
Hamilton voiced concerns about the policy, questioning how it will affect the future of surfing and why it was put in place without consulting female or male surfers in the league. She 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. “We are seeing glimpses of male-bodied dominance in women’s sports.”
In response, Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL chief of sport, said the policy was created to ensure equity and fairness, and that it may need to evolve over time with feedback and new research.
The policy has sparked a debate over the fairness of allowing biological men to compete in the women’s division. Some argue that it is unfair for a male body to compete against female bodies regardless of testosterone levels, while others argue that it is unfair to deny someone the right to compete based on their gender.
In the meantime, Hamilton has said she will not be competing in or supporting the league while the rule remains. She also noted that other female surfers may feel they can’t speak out against the policy due to fear of retribution.
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