In a development stirring controversy, three members of the English women’s fishing team have announced their refusal to compete at the upcoming Shore Angling World Championships in Italy this November. Their decision is rooted in their discomfort with one of their own teammates, Becky Lee Birtwhistle Hodges, being a trans woman.
The board of the sport’s governing body, the Angling Trust, has made it clear that it will not prohibit Hodges from applying to compete, emphasizing their commitment to gender inclusion in the sport. However, 66-year-old team captain Heather has expressed her concerns, stating that having Hodges on the team led to humiliation during the 2018 world championships, with other countries refusing to engage with the English team.
Heather shared her perspective, explaining, “Although Becky Lee would be an asset to my team, it’s unfair on everyone else. And if you win in a situation like that, you can’t enjoy the victory, because it feels like you’ve cheated.” She highlighted the disparity in casting distances and perceived advantages that arise from differences in body strength.
The Angling Trust, however, maintains that trans women do not hold an advantage over cis women in the sport. The organization has affirmed its inclusive policy, pending the results of a mandatory review by Sport England. Jamie Cook, a member of Angling Trust, underlined their commitment to ensuring safety, fairness, and inclusion while acknowledging that the review could potentially lead to policy adjustments.
Cook also emphasized that angling competitions often involve mixed-gender participation, promoting inclusivity across age, race, gender, and sexual orientation. The trust plans to conduct a survey to gauge the sentiments of anglers within the community regarding trans inclusion, reaffirming their dedication to making informed decisions in the evolving landscape of sports diversity and equality.