Biological males can’t compete in women’s fishing competitions, the sport’s international governing body ruled Friday.
“In line with the recent debates wondering around the question whether it is fair to let transgender participate [sic] in female competitions, we have finally concluded that this eventuality is absolutely discriminatory, especially in those disciplines where the physical strength can make a difference,” wrote the Confédération internationale de la pêche sportive, which governs angling sports.
If a competitor’s gender is in question, a birth certificate will need to be presented before registration, the news rules state.
The policy was announced after members of the England ladies’ angling team refused to compete in the world championship after a transgender athlete was selected to compete on their team, according to the Daily Mail.
Becky Lee Birtwhistle Hodges, a former rugby player, had already competed on the England team at the 2018 world championship, helping the team win bronze.
However, team captain Heather Lindfield said the team was “humiliated” over the win.
“It wasn’t a nice situation, mainly because all the other countries wouldn’t speak to us,” Lindfield said, according to Daily Mail. “The managers wouldn’t speak to our managers. They were all against us. When we went up to collect our medal, nobody clapped, and people walked out.”
The transgender angler, who was born male, can reportedly cast her line twice as far as a woman.
“Although Becky Lee would be an asset on my team, it’s unfair on everyone else,” Lindfield continued. “And if you win in a situation like that, you can’t enjoy the victory, because it feels like you’ve cheated.”
Another governing body in the sport, U.K.-based Angling Trust, has denied that trans women have a significant advantage. When asked to ban Hodges from competing in the past, the board denied it, according to Breitbart.
Lindfield disagreed with the board, saying that the average male angler casts at least twice as far as a woman.
“Many of the Angling Trust board members don’t fish and don’t know the sport,” Lindfield said, according to Daily Mail. “A man can cast 150 yards, but I can only cast about 70 yards. Some of the girls can only cast 50 yards. Body strength plays a major part, and it gives Becky Lee a lot more water that she can fish in.”
The director of sport at Fair Play for Women, Fiona McAnens, applauds the women who have taken a stand for fairness.
“These women know they would have an unfair advantage if they went to the world championships with a male in their team, and they’ve chosen to make a stand for fairness for all women,” McAnens said. “That takes courage.”