California Threatens Women’s Longboard Competition with Penalty

( – California’s Huntington Beach surfing contest has been forced by the California Coastal Commission to include biological males who identify as transgender in the women’s division.

Following a previous ban on biological males taking part in the women’s contest, the California Coastal Commission wrote to Todd Messick, founder of the American Longboard Association. The commission claimed that the ban on trans athletes in the women’s division was “not consistent” with the Coastal Act’s justice policies or the inclusive transgender policies adopted by two global surfing bodies.

Surfing legend Bethany Hamilton slated the state’s officials after the decision. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Hamilton said the ban reversal is “not a fair game” and that she does not support it.

The decision followed comments by Messick in a video posted on Instagram on April 25 that raised concerns about the inclusion of biologically male surfers in women’s contests. Messick said that seeing a transgender athlete enter a woman’s division came as a shock, adding that he had planned to address this concern in the second contest.

The letter sent to Messick shared the concerns of Commission staff that the ban would not grant equal access to all who wish to compete in the event. The Coastal Commission reminded Messick that he had discussed the issue with the commission on May 7 and agreed to allow transgender surfers to enter the competition. It warned Messick that the competition may be subject to disciplinary measures, penalties, and “other remedies” if it fails to comply with the Coastal Act.

Messick’s decision to ban biological men from entering the female competition related specifically to Sasha Jane Lowerson, an Australian who had already won in male contests. Lowerson suggested that Messick was “cherry-picking the rulebook” and credited Surfing Australia with being very welcoming and inclusive towards transgender surfers. Messick told reporters that despite his surprise over the amount of anger the ban had caused, many told him they supported the ban and praised him for speaking out against the inclusion of biological males in women’s contests.

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