Female Boxer Withdraws From Tournament After Learning Opponent Is Transgender

By Khadija Pervez in Sports On 23rd November 2023
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A female boxer has decided to withdraw from a Canadian tournament after expressing concerns for her safety upon learning that her opponent is transgender.

Dr. Katia Bissonnette, hailing from Saguenay, withdrew from the competition, stating that she was given only one hour's notice about being matched against transgender fighter Mya Walmsley last month.

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Originally slated to compete against each other in the 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship in Victoriaville, Quebec, Dr. Katia Bissonnette and Mya Walmsley's anticipated match was disrupted by the former's withdrawal.

Dr. Bissonnette cited safety fears as the primary reason for her decision to step back from the competition after learning about her opponent's transgender identity.

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Mya Walmsley

However, Dr. Katia Bissonnette made the decision to withdraw from the competition at the last moment, prompted by the revelation of her opponent's identity.

Consequently, Mya Walmsley was declared the default winner, as organizers were unable to find a replacement for Dr. Bissonnette in the same weight class.

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Expressing her perspective on the matter, Dr. Katia Bissonnette conveyed to Reduxx,

"Women shouldn't have to bear the physical and psychological risks brought about by a man's decisions regarding his personal life and identity."

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She advocated for the establishment of two separate categories based on biological sex, arguing for distinctions between biological males and females in competitive sports.

Dr. Katia Bissonnette supported her safety concerns by referencing a study conducted by the University of Utah, which revealed that men can deliver punches that are 163 percent harder than women. 

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While studies on the strength of transgender women indicate that hormone blockers may mitigate this biological advantage to some extent, Bissonnette used these findings to underscore her apprehensions.

In alignment with Boxing Canada's guidelines, the identity of a transgender fighter should not be disclosed if the transition occurred before puberty, aiming to prevent discrimination. 

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Mya Walmsley, originally from Australia with an undisclosed history, became a focal point of Bissonnette's concerns.

Dr. Bissonnette asserted that Walmsley's file suggests 'zero fights as a woman' in Canada, raising questions about her experience in women's boxing.

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Mya Walmsley, in response to the situation, criticized Dr. Katia Bissonnette for publicly revealing her transgender identity instead of approaching her directly for a resolution.

The controversy highlights differing perspectives on how such matters should be handled within the sports community.

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"This kind of behavior puts athletes at risk of being excluded or receiving personal attacks based on hearsay," Walmsley said in a statement.

"I am afraid that this type of accusation could eventually be used to delegitimize athletes in the women's category, and justify arbitrary and invasive regulations."

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The philosophy Masters student, Mya Walmsley, shared with La Presse that she had not undertaken the transition process with the intention of becoming a boxer.

She expressed feeling like a 'political object' in the aftermath of the situation, emphasizing the complex nature of the debate surrounding transgender athletes in sports.

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Walmsley advocated for a system that places trust in coaches and athletes to make informed decisions about participating in the appropriate gender categories.

In contrast to the International Olympic Committee's guidelines, which permit transwomen to compete in female categories if they lower their testosterone to a specified level, Mya Walmsley confirmed that she did not undergo testing for testosterone levels before enrolling in the championship. 

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She argued against what she described as 'arbitrary and invasive' tests, suggesting that implementing such measures would lead to a dead end in addressing the issue.

The controversy surrounding Dr. Katia Bissonnette and Mya Walmsley has reignited the ongoing debate on the most effective way to accommodate transgender competitors in sports. 

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This incident follows the disclosure by Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender MMA fighter, who revealed having fractured a female competitor's bone in a bout before retiring from the sport.

Fox pointed out that the broken orbital bone sustained by Tamika Brents was a common injury in the sport, irrespective of gender. The incident adds fuel to the broader discussion on ensuring fair competition and safety for all athletes, regardless of gender identity.