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‘Woke’ Surfing Competition Under Fire After Transgender Woman Competes

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Transgender females

In a turnaround, the American Longboard Association initially banned transgender females from joining the women’s division of a California surfing contest but later changed its stance.

Sasha Jane Lowerson

Responding to criticism, Todd Messick, the association’s founder, declared that transgender surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson can now compete in the Huntington Beach Longboard Pro alongside female participants.

Surf competitions

According to the BBC, the California Coastal Commission said surf competitions could “not discriminate based on gender.”


Messick said that he was “surprised by the amount of anger” from his original decision. “For me, I was trying to do the right thing. It wasn’t something I ever expected to have to deal with really, not in our little longboard community,” he said to the outlet.


He later noted that “a lot of people [were] very appreciative of me speaking up” about fairness in women’s sports.

Limited options

Additionally, Messick was left with limited options as highlighted by the BBC, which reported that the California Coastal Commission had a say in the matter. “Surf contests in state waters must be carried out in a lawful manner that does not discriminate based on gender” and risk being shut down if otherwise.


Lowerson, an Australian who won competitions against men, was “really disappointed and surprised” at being originally barred from the event.


“You can’t cherry-pick the rulebook. If you’re going to use the rulebook, you use all of it,” Lowerson said.

Rip Curl ambassador

Lowerson’s role as a Rip Curl ambassador was criticized by surfing icon Bethany Hamilton.


“Male-bodied athletes should not be competing in female sports. Period,” Hamilton wrote on X back in January.

Female surfers

Messick said that “90%” of the female surfers he has spoken with are on Hamilton’s side, “but many haven’t commented. It’s that sensitive.”


Last year, Hamilton expressed her views on transgender inclusion in women’s sports by criticizing the World Surf League’s regulations for transgender women participating in its competitions.


The WSL specified that transgender female athletes must uphold a testosterone level of 5 nmol/L for a minimum of one year to compete in the women’s category.

Separate division

In response, Hamilton suggested in a video that the WSL should establish a separate division instead.

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