As reported by our Aussie brethren at www.stabmag.com
As families around Australia sat down to dinner, Peter Drouyn, godfather of professional surfing, pioneer of man-on-man heats and Australian surfing hall of fame inductee, appeared on their television screens. Reclining against a pylon at the Gold Coast's Spit Beach, Drouyn presented in a neon yellow and orange striped one-piece swimsuit, red lipstick beaconing from his puckers, white hair down to his neck, man-mound clearly visible, and told the country he was no longer a man. At his peak, Drouyn lured ten thousand people to Burleigh Heads for the '77 Stubbies Pro, in what is considered the genesis of professional surfing. Via one of Australia's most ill-reputed tabloid television programs, he chose to reveal to the world he is now Westerly Windina, and will be undergoing gender reassignment surgery as soon as finances allow.
The response was predictably polarised. Tom Carroll appeared on the same program, saying "It doesn't seem that much of a… well… when I think of Peter, it's not that much of shock."
Terry Fitzgerald had only two words to say: "Drama queen."
The blogosphere ranged from the ultra supportive to the downright hurtful: "I think he is going completely down the wrong path. It is not up to us as humans to change who we are… but to 'accept' who we are," responded Ms Green, via popmagazine.com.au.
What has been notably absent from public discourse, however, is the lateral thinking for which Drouyn was renowned. With a former professional surfer undergoing gender reassignment surgery, Stab took the opportunity to quiz the ASP where it stands regarding transgender athletes.
"It depends, I guess. I mean they do allow it in tennis, so yeah, there is a precedent for it," replied WQS tour manager and ASP technical committee member AL Hunt, when asked whether a transgender athlete would be allowed to compete on the women's tour. Forget tennis. In 2003 the International Olympic Committee made it legal for transgender athletes to represent at the Olympic games so long as they had undergone genital reconstructive surgery and completed at least two years of hormonal therapy. The fact surfing has not updated its laws puts us in a sexually discriminatory category of pre-postmodern sports (bullfighting, jelly wrestling, ice hockey etc.) that draw the ire of the gay community. And we don't wanna be upsettin' our rainbow brothers. That's one of Stab's key demographics.
World Number 8 Jessie Miley-Dyer has some concerns, but is confident that, should the correct procedure be followed, there won't be a problem.
"When you look at all the studies, men are definitely a lot stronger then women, with the muscle density and stuff. But I wouldn't have a problem with it personally. There wouldn't be any doubts that they wouldn't have [an advantage]."
The IOC's decision to allow transgender athletes to compete did not come without serious debate. With no conclusive studies having been carried out on transgender athletes, the fear is an athlete who has gone through puberty as a male before undergoing gender reassignment and the two years of hormonal treatment may have already developed increased bone density and a greater heart and lung capacity. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, sports science professionals ardently refute these claims, stating that the measures in place will prove amply sufficient in changing transsexuals bodies and that hormone therapy primarily affects muscle mass.
So when can we expect the ASP to update its laws on transgender athletes?
"We're not gonna rule on anything like that," says Hunt. "We'll worry about it if it ever comes up."
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