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HB Longboard Pro: Australian transgender surfer enters women’s event

The California Coastal Commission has drawn a line in the sand: Allow transgender surfers to compete, or you’ll be in violation of the Coastal Act.

A two-day surf contest happening this weekend in Huntington Beach found itself at the center of a hotly debated topic: Whether trans athletes should be allowed to compete in the gender division they identify with or the gender they were born as – a question many sports organizers are facing as equality and fairness is argued among both sides.

A few weeks ago, Australian transgender surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson said she approached the organizer of this weekend’s inaugural Huntington Beach Longboard Pro about entering the women’s competition but told surf website Inertia she never heard back, even after submitting the entry form and fees.

Todd Messick, founder of the newly formed American Longboard Association and organizer of the Huntington Beach event, said via text message on Thursday, May 9, he received her entry fee, but no follow-up paperwork. If Lowerson met the requirements set by the International Surfing Association, he said she would have been added to the contest.

The Coastal Commission had been contacted on Lowerson’s behalf and sent Messick a letter emphasizing that “prohibiting or unfairly limiting transgender athletes from competing in this or any surf competition that takes place in the coastal waters of California does not meet the requirements of the public access policies of the Coastal Act.”

And that means an event could be shut down, the letter said, because “the Coastal Act includes policies that explicitly identify the need to ensure equality and environmental justice and allows the commission to use this lens in its regulatory decision making related to activities occurring in the coastal zone.”

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