The Australian surfing company Rip Curl is taking heat for hiring a male-born transgender model as one of its new “female brand ambassadors.”
The move came only months after the wetsuit brand dumped Bethany Hamilton, the surfer famed for losing her arm to a shark attack because she criticized male athletes competing as women.
On Jan. 24, Rip Curl featured surfer Sasha Jane Lowerson, 42, who was born Ryan Egan, and described him as a “West Australian waterwoman.”
The company touted Lowerson as a “West Australian waterwoman who loves the freedom found in surfing, disconnecting from the mainstream, and the feeling of dancing on constantly changing waves… It’s a state of mind, always being ready to try something new, curious to seek out knowledge and learn the rules – and break them,” Reduxx reported
The post seems to have been removed from the Rip Curl Instagram page.
Lowerson is notable for having won the women’s title in 2022, only three years after winning the men’s title before having “transitioned” in 2021. He remains the only person to have won both men’s and women’s longboard titles.
The choice to add the male-born surfer instantly came under fire.
— Taylor Silverman (@tmsilverman) January 26, 2024
Imagine, dropping a phenomenal professional surfer, who survived a shark biting her arm off, only to replace her with a man who pretends to be a woman. ♀️Guess what my followers and I will be doing? We will all #BoycottRipCurl
Will you? pic.twitter.com/l0hVB0mts1
— Erin Elizabeth Health Nut News 🙌 (@unhealthytruth) January 27, 2024
Women’s sports advocate Riley Gaines also blasted Rip Curl for its move to bring on Lowerson.
“You mean to tell me @ripcurl dropped Bethany Hamilton for opposing men surfing in the women’s league then picked up male surfer who surfs in the women’s league as a women’s ambassador?” Gaines wrote.
You mean to tell me @ripcurl dropped Bethany Hamilton for opposing men surfing in the women’s league then picked up male surfer who surfs in the women’s league as a women’s ambassador?
— Riley Gaines (@Riley_Gaines_) January 25, 2024
Rip Curl dumped Bethany Hamilton after the surfer shared several social media posts questioning guidelines posted in 2022 allowing men to compete as women in competitions governed by the World Surf League.
“Is a hormone level an honest and accurate depiction that someone indeed is a male or female? Is it as simple as this?” Hamilton asked in one video. In a second, she questioned the policy again, saying, “Am I just a hormone number? Is it as simple as that?”
Hamilton also threatened to boycott World Surf League events over the rules change to allow transgender athletes to compete as women.