Rip Curl takes down Instagram post promoting transgender surfer Sasha Lowerson after online backlash

Monday 29 January 2024

Australian surf brand Rip Curl has quietly taken down an Instagram post promoting a transgender surfer following backlash.

Sasha Lowerson had been prominently featured in the brand's Meet The Local Heroes of Western Australia campaign. It described its ambassador as: “West Australian waterwoman who loves the freedom found in surfing, disconnecting from the mainstream, and the feeling of dancing on constantly changing waves.

"It’s a state of mind, always being ready to try something new, curious to seek out knowledge and learn the rules – and break them.⁠”

Now, following a campaign to boycott the brand, the Instagram post has been taken down.

The move comes five months after Rip Curl dropped its former brand ambassador, US professional surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003.

Critics suggested the brand dropped Ms Hamilton over her public opposition to transgender athletes competing in women's sports.

Last year, she threatened to boycott the World Surf League after it ruled trans surfers could compete in women's competitions providing they maintained a testosterone level below 5nmol/L for 12 months beforehand.

She has also claimed trans surfers have a biological advantage over female surfers stating: "We are seeing glimpses of male-bodied dominance in women's sports like running, swimming and others."

Sasha Lowerson had been prominently featured in the Ripcurl's Meet The Local Heroes of Western Australia campaign.

Fans of the brand subsequently began using the hashtags #RIP Ripcurl and #boycottripcurl to show their disdain.

Critics suggested the brand dropped Bethany Hamilton over her public opposition to transgender athletes competing in women's sports.

Leading the criticism against Lowerson was US swimmer Riley Gaines, an outspoken campaigner against biological males competing in women's sports.

In a social media post she wrote: "You mean to tell me Rip Curl dropped Bethany Hamilton for opposing men surfing in the women's league then picked up male surfer who surfs in the women's league as a women's ambassador? Crazzzzyyy"

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Fans of the brand subsequently began using the hashtags #RIP Ripcurl and #boycottripcurl to show their disdain.

In an interview last year, Lowerson, who was born a male but identifies as a woman, described the sport as "patriarchal, transphobic and homophobic".

The 44-year-old said: "Surfing was a thing that held me back from transitioning due to the old guard being so patriarchal and transphobic and homophobic.

'When I started transitioning I stopped surfing for six months. I was willing to walk away from it to be truly

"I got to a point where I couldn't go on. I suffered a lot of mental health issues that were symptoms of my gender dysphoria, from agoraphobia to anxiety and depression, which lead to multiple attempts on my own life.

"I didn't choose to live my truth, I just chose to live."

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