A female boxer from Saguenay, Canada, Dr. Katia Bissonnette, withdrew from a tournament at the last moment after being informed that her opponent, Mya Walmsley, was a transgender boxer. Bissonnette claimed that she was given only an hour's notice before the fight was scheduled to begin. The two fighters were supposed to face off in the Provincial Golden Glove Championship in Victoriaville, Quebec.
Citing concerns for her safety, Bissonnette decided not to participate in the fight and subsequently, Walmsley was declared the winner by default as no other boxer could be found to compete in the same weight category. Bissonnette expressed her belief that there should be separate categories for biological males and females in order to avoid physical and psychological risks for women.
Bissonnette referred to a study conducted by the University of Utah that found men can punch 163 percent harder than women. While hormone blockers may reduce this biological advantage to some extent for transgender women, Bissonnette argued that it does not completely negate the advantage. Boxing Canada, however, states that if a transition occurred before puberty, a trans fighter's identity should not be disclosed to prevent discrimination.
Walmsley, originally from Australia, criticized Bissonnette for publicly outing her instead of attempting to resolve the issue privately. She expressed concern that such accusations could lead to the exclusion or personal attacks against transgender athletes. Walmsley emphasized the importance of trust in coaches and athletes to choose the appropriate gender categories for themselves.
The controversy surrounding this incident has reinvigorated the ongoing debate around the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports. The International Olympic Committee has established guidelines for transwomen to compete in female categories if they lower their testosterone levels to a certain threshold. However, Walmsley confirmed that she did not have to undergo any hormone level tests before enrolling in the championship and argued against the requirement for such tests, considering them arbitrary and invasive.
This case highlights the challenges faced in creating fair and inclusive policies within sports to accommodate transgender athletes. The debate requires careful consideration to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants while promoting equality and inclusivity in athletic competitions.