Female Boxer Refuses to Fight Transgender Boxer in Championship Match


The 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship in Quebec, Canada caused quite a stir when Canadian female boxer Katia Bissonnette withdrew from a championship match against a transgender opponent. This decision sparked a debate about the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports and raised questions about safety, identity, and fairness.
Katia Bissonnette had been gearing up for the championship match and was all set to compete when she learned that her opponent would be Mya Walmsley, a transgender athlete who had not previously fought as a woman. This unexpected revelation made Bissonnette reconsider her participation in the match.

In an interview with Reduxx, Bissonnette shared the sequence of events that led to her withdrawal. Her coach received a text message informing them that Mya Walmsley was not assigned female at birth. This limited information raised concerns for Bissonnette and her team, as they were uncertain about Walmsley’s competitive background and transition history.

Mya Walmsley, originally from Australia, had moved to Canada to attend Concordia University in Montreal. Bissonnette pointed out that Walmsley had competed as a man in Australia, and there were no records of any fights as a woman in Quebec. This lack of competitive history as a female boxer in Quebec added to the uncertainty surrounding the match.

After withdrawing from the competition, Katia Bissonnette faced criticism from Mya Walmsley, who accused her of not addressing her concerns directly with him or his coach. Walmsley expressed disappointment that Bissonnette involved the media instead of seeking more information from relevant authorities or engaging in a conversation with the athletes involved. He argued that such actions put athletes at risk of exclusion and personal attacks based on rumors.

Walmsley emphasized the importance of trust among athletes when it comes to gender identification and advocated for a system where athletes respect each other’s self-identified genders. On the other hand, Bissonnette insisted on transparent rules and policies in competitions, ensuring that athletes are not placed in situations of uncertainty. She noted that Boxing Canada had issued a rule to the Quebec Boxing Federation not to disclose an opponent’s transgender status to prevent discrimination. However, this policy was designed for cases where a sex change had occurred before puberty, and Walmsley’s transition history as a foreign athlete remained unclear.

One of Bissonnette’s main concerns was the potential safety risk of competing against a transgender athlete. She referred to a 2020 study from the University of Utah, which found that male blows had 163% more impact than female blows, even when adjusted for weight. Bissonnette argued that women should not have to face the physical and psychological risks associated with competing against individuals who were assigned male at birth.

Bissonnette firmly believed that gender categories in sports should be separate for biological males and females to ensure fair competition and address safety concerns.

The debate sparked by this incident highlights the complex and evolving challenges faced by sports organizations, athletes, and policymakers when it comes to the inclusion of transgender athletes in competitive sports. It raises important questions about how to strike a balance between fairness, inclusivity, and safety in sports competitions while respecting the rights and identities of all athletes involved.

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