A Canadian female boxer refused to take part in a championship match against a transgender opponent, who was born a male.
Katia Bissonnette withdrew herself from participating in a match during the 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship in Quebec, Canada after she learned last minute that she would be competing against Mya Walmsley, a transgender opponent who had not previously fought as a woman, she told Reduxx. Due to Bissonnette’s withdrawal from the competition, Walmsley won by default after being unable to find another woman in the same welterweight category to compete.
“I came down from my hotel room to head towards the room where all the boxers were warming up,” Bissonnette explained. “My coach suddenly took me aside and told me he received information by text message, which he had then validated, that my opponent was not a woman by birth. We did not have any other additional information.”
A female boxer withdrew from a championship in Quebec, Canada, after learning she was set to fight a trans-identified male.
Katia Bissonnette tells Reduxx she learned her opponent was a man just one hour before she was set to step into the ring.https://t.co/ntnivo4Xx2
— REDUXX (@ReduxxMag) November 15, 2023
Bissonnette explained that Walmsley, who is from Australia, had moved to Canada in order to attend Concordia University, in Montreal.
He “would have boxed as a man in Australia,” Bissonnette explained to the outlet. “In Quebec, on his file, it is mentioned that he had 0 fights as a woman.”
After Bissonnette withdrew from the race, Walmsley, who engaged in political activism in college, slammed her for not having aired her reservations to Walmsley or his coach.
“Rather than turning to me, my coach or the Quebec Olympic Boxing Federation for more information, she decided to turn directly to the media to out me,” Walmsley said in a statement. “This kind of behavior puts athletes at risk of being excluded or receiving personal attacks based on hearsay.”
Walmsley suggested that the best option for athletes in terms of gender-identification was to “trust” each other, while Bissonnette rejected this, pointing out it is unclear how Walmsley qualified to enter the competition.
“The rule issued from Boxing Canada to the Quebec Boxing Federation was not to reveal that the opponent was transsexual, so that the latter would not be discriminated against,” Bissonnette explained, adding that the “policy only applies when a sex change has taken place before puberty,” to which since Walmsley is a foreigner, the transition history is not clear.
Bissonnette added that she withdrew from the race due to safety reasons, citing a 2020 study from the University of Utah, which found that a male blow has 163% more impact than a woman, even when “adjusted for weight.”
“Women shouldn’t have to bear the physical and psychological risks brought by a man’s decisions regarding his personal life and identity,” Bissonnette said. “There should be two categories: biological male and female.”
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