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Backlash: Surfing Corp. Rip Curl Drops Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton, Promotes Transgender Surfer

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for ChristianHeadlines.com | Updated: Jan 30, 2024
Backlash: Surfing Corp. Rip Curl Drops <em>Soul Surfer</em> Bethany Hamilton, Promotes Transgender Surfer

Backlash: Surfing Corp. Rip Curl Drops Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton, Promotes Transgender Surfer

“Male-bodied athletes should not be competing in female sports. Period,” Christian athlete Bethany Hamilton of Soul Surfer fame wrote on X Tuesday.

Surfing company Rip Curl, which was founded in Australia in 1969, featured Sasha Lowerson, a trans-identifying male, in a now-deleted post on Instagram on Thursday as part of the company’s “Meet The Local Heroes of Western Australia” campaign. However, the company disabled comments and ultimately deleted the post after receiving backlash, Outkick reports.

Lowerson, once identified as Ryan Egan before transitioning in 2021, is a professional longboarder from Western Australia. Lowerson previously competed and won in women’s divisions. Rip Curl previously featured Lowerson on its social media feeds in August 2023.

The incident comes months after Rip Curl dropped Hamilton as a brand ambassador for over two decades due to her opposition of trans-identifying males competing in women’s sports.

“Rip Curl - a famous surfing brand - have dropped Bethany Hamilton (who lost her arm in a shark attack) from their ad campaigns. They have instead used Sasha Lowerson to advertise women’s surfing,” tweeted freelance writer Jill Foster. “Their total contempt could not be more clear.”

Riley Gaines, a former All-American swimmer who has been outspoken against trans women in female sports, also issued a response to Rip Curl and the company’s deletion of the post following backlash.

“Hahahaha Ripcurl suddenly knows what a woman is,” Gaines wrote. “They've also since deleted all posts promoting a male surfer posing as a woman after dropping Bethany Hamilton. They want you to forget about their contempt for women. Don't."

The World Surf League, the governing body for professional surfers, adopted the International Surfing Association’s (ISA) policy for transgender participation in early 2023. As reported by News.com.au, the International Olympic Committee recognizes the ISA as the world’s governing body for surfing.

The policy stresses that biologically male athletes are to have a certain amount of testosterone levels in the past 12 months in order to compete in a women’s sporting event.

Hamilton, and other athletes, including Kelly Slater, have called for a separate division for transgender athletes after the announcement was made.

“How did whoever decided these hormone rules come to the conclusion that 12 months of testing testosterone make it a fair and legal switch?” Hamilton asked.

Slater, an 11-time men’s world champion, stated: “Make a trans division, and we don’t have this confusion.”

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Image credit: ©Getty Images/Katharine

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

Backlash: Surfing Corp. Rip Curl Drops Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton, Promotes Transgender Surfer