Three out of the six members of England’s women’s angling team have quit after a transgender athlete was allowed to join the team for an upcoming major competition, the Daily Mail reported.
Becky Lee Birtwhistle Hodges, a biological man, was named for next month’s “physically challenging” Home Nations shore fishing championship.
Birtwhistle Hodges is a former rugby player who one former teammate described as having “hands like shovels.”
Half of England ladies' angling team QUIT after trans cheat ‘Becky’ Lee Birtwhistle-Hodges – with hands like shovels & an ex-rugby player – is selected.
Three of the six stepped down as the team defends last year's gold medal in the Home Nations championship.😕🎣 pic.twitter.com/kSiwetXYNn
— Mr Pål Christiansen 🇳🇴😍 (@TheNorskaPaul) June 11, 2023
Birtwhistle Hodges was “the only member of the team to catch any fish during a competition in rough weather earlier this year that was held by governing body the Angling Trust to select the final England team,” according to the Daily Mail.
The women’s angling team captain was one of the three who quit the team, telling the Daily Mail she would rather have a “rubbish woman” on the team than a biological male.
A 66-year-old woman who identified herself as Heather told the Daily Mail it was a “difficult” decision to pull out of Home Nations and leave the opportunity to defend their gold medal from last year’s event.
She went on to talk about the strength advantage a biological man would have over women in her sport. She said:
This is such an advantage, with the ability to cast longer distances than any woman. They have the capability of doing this while using more powerful equipment, such as stiffer and more powerful rods.
Not to mention the extra strength she has wading in and out of the surf or walking through mud and rocks, and the stamina to keep this going for four or five hours.
I have no grudge personally. This is an advantage to our team, but we find it totally unfair to other nations. Transgender competitors are ruining our sport, and the Angling Trust will not listen to our views, so this is why myself and the team decided to pull out.
Birtwhistle Hodges joined the women’s angling team in 2018, helping them win bronze at the World Shore Fishing Championships. One year later, Birtwhistle Hodges underwent gender-transitioning surgery.
Angling Trust chief executive Jamie Cook said, “The question we are required to address by Sport England is whether the sport of angling is gender impacted to an extent where fairness overrides inclusion or safety.”
“The view of the Angling Trust board is that as a non-contact sport, the safety concern is not deemed significant within the sport of angling,” Cook added.
He recognized that stronger competitors shave an advantage in the sport, but “technique, watercraft, knowledge, tactics, rig creation and focus” were also key factors.