Bethany Hamilton, left, and transgender superstar Sasha Jane Lowerson.

In raw new interview, world’s only transgender pro surfer blames “far right going mental” following Kelly Slater and Bethany Hamilton’s opposition to WSL’s new trans-inclusive policies!

"It's pretty noisy in the surf world this week. I’m just weathering out the storm."

A little over two weeks since the WSL tentatively opened the door for transgender gals to compete at the highest level and Kelly Slater and Bethany Hamilton responded with a call for a “trans-only division”, the sport’s only transgender surfer has responded in a candid new interview. 

You’ll rememberer the arrival of Sasha Jane Lowerson, a forty five year old as full of juice as warm ripe fruit, on the women’s longboard scene last year when she dominated the women’s div, adding trophy upon trophy to her groaning mantelpiece.

Lowerson bloomed into womanhood in 2020 shortly after winning the men’s longboard div as Ryan Egan and didn’t look back.

“Trans-girls aren’t going to take over the world, we just want to be included, we’re humans too,” Lowerson said. “I’ve been hiding in this male shell up… for 42 years. To still be made to be that guy that I’m not, it’s shattering,”

The WSL officially allows trans-women to compete so long as they’ve been a gal for at least twelve months and their hormone levels are less than 5 nanomoles per liter continuously for the previous 12 months (biological men hover between 10 and 35, bio-gals under three).

“The WSL is working hard to balance equity and fairness and it’s important for a policy to be in place,” the WSL’s newly anointed Chief of Sport Jessi Miley-Dyer told the oft-controversial adult learner surfer website The Inertia. “We recognize that the policy may need to evolve over time as we get feedback and see new research in the field.”

The world’s most inspirational surfer Bethany Hamilton opened a Pandora’s Box, however, when she recorded a piece to camera damning the policy.

Hamilton said she was speaking for tour surfers who felt muzzled, agreed with Kelly Slater who called for a trans-only div and said she’d boycott events if it went ahead.

“Speak your truth!” wrote the big-wave legend Shane Dorian. “Thank you for being brave enough to stand up for what you believe. Don’t listen to people who hurl the word transphobic at anyone who’s beliefs don’t align perfectly with theirs. These are complicated problems with no clear solution. Regardless, there are many people who love and support the trans community who agree with you on these issues…Less than 1% of people think this policy reflects fairness. Quite the opposite.”

Since the middle-aged logger Lowerson is the only transgender surfer doin’ the contest rounds and good as she is on the nine-footers she ain’t exactly a threat to Carissa Moore it does make opposition about it all feel a little confected. 

In an interview with LGBTQ+ website Them Lowerson responded, 

“It’s pretty noisy in the surf world this week. We’ve got a lot of the far right just going mental. I’m just weathering out the storm. The positive side of it is the number of allies that have popped their head up just in the past 24 hours for me. The women who have stood up and said, ‘We’ve surfed against Sasha, and she’s awesome’ and ‘regardless of gender, she’s an amazing surfer.’ One girl said, ‘She smashed me in one final, and then I got her in the next, and it’s no different than surfing with any other girl.; It’s just weathering the storm of bigotry at the moment, and having good allies who are willing to stand up with us.”

The main culprits, the bigots, said Lowerson are, “middle-aged men. It’s all the same as it was a year ago, and ten months ago. I‘m sure it’s gonna get pretty loud in a month when I actually have a world surf league jersey on at the start of March.”

Speaking of trannies, is Valentina Sampaio, who appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue and on the VS catwalk, your favourite crossover trans-model ? 

Or are you  team Geena Rocero, a Playboy centrefold in 2019?  

Outdoor giant North Face brutally appropriates plucky li’l surf label Rip Curl’s iconic logo!


I hope, and trust, at this very moment that you are enjoying the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach. At time of writing, the waves are “spicy” and/or “crispy” as are some of the performances, particularly from Team Rip Curl. Gabriel Medina easily handled the Indonesian upstart Rio Waida and… well, I guess that’s it. Sammy Pupo got stung by an interference and ushered out as well as Jackson Baker who became eliminated in the round dedicated to it.

So not great for plucky Australian brand billing itself as “the ultimate surfing company,” on second thought. Not great at all and very much worse today as it was revealed that outdoor giant North Face has blatantly borrowing Rip Curl’s label with not one mention of Mason Ho nor Mick Fanning.



And compare.

And a major shot across bow.

North Face, valued at some $5.6 billion, is both popular and well-loved, putting men and women on top of Mt. Everest and collaborating with Gucci.

Rip Curl, recently purchased for $350 million (Australian), hosts a lightly-appreciated Bells Beach surf contest and collaborating with Mick Fanning.

A tough punch to take, having logo just swiped with no appreciation given.

Just appropriation.


I just realized the aforementioned Jackson Baker did not, in fact, get eliminated in the round dedicated to it but just lost to Kanoa Igarashi in a wildly close one to get dropped. Igarashi, to be fair, is “tired of being a great surfer” but tough for Rip Curl nonetheless.


More as the story develops.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Three of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach where the obvious merits utterance!

Who will rise and shine?

Balinese surfer Rio Waida, on the inside, and Zeke Lau's potentially career-ending interference.

Poor “beachbreak” waves at iconic Sunset Beach shine spotlight on sport’s inherent cruelty, “Talent be damned. This is pro surfing. Not everyone is built for it!”

The fundamental requirement for success in this game lies between your ears. This rarefied power manifests in different guises.

It’s a human failing to dwell on the vagaries of the universe, things like weather or luck.

Given days like this, and there will be more, I’ll endeavor not to harp on about how poor the waves are.

When the Grand Dame of Aquatic Jiggery Pokery, or whatever JMD is calling herself this week, is faced with an event window like this, without promise nor hope, there seems little point in complaining.

What we have is what we have. Make the best of it or go home.

Make or break.

Poor pro surfers sent out to duel for their careers in an arena not fit for purpose.

Just when I was starting to believe that God had a peculiar kink for professional surfing.

Really, what he (or she or they) love more is a trier. Today, and perhaps for the remainder of the event window, it is the surfers with the greatest mental fortitude who will triumph.

Talent be damned. This is pro surfing.

And it’s a cruel game.

Not everyone is built for it.

Maxime Huscenot is likely not built for it. Not from what we’ve seen in two events. And not if you can’t catch two waves in an elimination heat.

In a very different way, Ultimate Surfer Zeke Lau is not built for it. Tonight he will question the universe and the WSL.

He will question the rotten luck of a terrible forecast for an event that should be his strongest in the whole calendar.

He will question the priority rules that led to his second scoring wave being struck off in his elimination heat.

And not for the first time, he will question his short tenure on the WCT.

The fundamental requirement for success in this game lies between your ears. This rarefied power manifests in different guises.

You could be calculating and analytical, like Slater.

Or on the path to Zen, like Jack Robinson.

Or perhaps just have the sort of dogged determination revered by Australians yet characterised best by Brazilians.

A trio of the latter, Gabriel Medina, Sammy Pupo and Yago Dora made the best of what was on offer today and advanced through their heats in first position.

It strikes me that these are three men you might bet on in any conditions, a judgement based on their heads as well as their talent.

“It’s not Sunset, it’s just an ordinary beachbreak,” said Dora after his win and in reference to his pre-heat mindset.

It was a statement that might be construed as criticism if taken out of context. But what it demonstrated was his flexibility when it comes to performing with a vest on. Who cares what the waves are doing, we’re here to compete.

One man you should never bet on is Kolohe Andino. Yet today you’d have been handsomely rewarded.

Andino surfed with a looseness that hasn’t been evident in quite some time in defeating Jordy and Leo in his Round 1 heat.

What caught my attention was the cognitive dissonance I felt at seeing Andino win a heat. The idea of a Kolohe Andino event win, let alone a world title run, seems like an impossible scenario in 2023.

How far our faith has drifted in ten years from America’s favourite son.

Strider brought his own, peculiar brand of idiom mangling to the booth. Some of it goes down like a brick shit sandwich, the rest can be quite endearing.

According to him, Calum Robson is “a steak and potatoes guy who lays bricks”.

Translation: good fundamentals.

Regardless, this sort of mumbo jumbo is preferable to some others.

Is it curious that Joe Turpel isn’t here, given they’ve moved just down the road a couple of days after Pipe?

Changes from last year’s programming are also evident in the fact that the Make Or Break crew have been less conspicuous. They’re certainly on the North Shore, or at least were, according to two of the producers I spoke with recently.

It seems there might be a glimpse of an ok forecast to look forward to tomorrow, and likely a very full day of overlapping heats.

Look forward to Filipe Toledo vs Eli Hanneman in Heat 9 as a battle between two of the fastest surfers in the water. And Heat 14, where Joao Chianca meets Yago Dora, is sure to be a treat.

Winning surfers don’t dwell on the weather. This game’s about more than that.

Warm like Hawaii.
Warm like Hawaii.

Breaking: Wetsuit brand Xcel purchased from stuffy bankers by small group of surf industry heavies, sign Sage Erickson as first order of business!

Happy days are here again.

The rise and fall of the surf industry could be a great, thick epic and one that may someday be written. Skipping toward the back half of the book, if Matt Warshaw had already put pen to paper and we had it in our hands, we would find chapters dedicated to Boardriders, the private equity group that scooped up Quiksilver and its holdings then Billabong and its holdings, becoming a behemoth but also weird with bankers etc. pulling surf strings.

Well, word has trickled out that one of Quik’s early purchases, Xcel, has been offloaded to a group of surf industry heavies.

The Hawaiian wetsuit brand founded by a man from New Jersey in 1982, has long been a staple in lineups around the world and always impressive to me. “How does a wetsuit brand get founded in Hawaii?” I’d wonder before remembering that man from New Jersey where the water gets icy cold.

Maybe not as cold as my hometown Coos Bay, Oregon but still.

In any case, Xcel became a staple though I feel semi-disappeared during the banker years but is now back, thanks to aforementioned heavies, and have signed the Ventura-by-way-of-Sunset product Sage Erickson as first order.


And do you imagine this sets up the second volume of the Rise and Fall of the Surf Industry tentatively titled The Surf Industry Strikes Back wherein iconic brands are scooped back up by the core and kept that way?

Here’s to hoping.

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