Female boxer Katia Bissonnette decided to withdraw from the 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship in Quebec upon learning that her opponent was a biological male identifying as transgender. Bissonnette was informed just an hour before the match about competing against a transgender athlete, prompting her to withdraw from the tournament. Consequently, the transgender athlete was declared the winner by default due to the unavailability of another opponent in the same weight class.
Katia Bissonnette recounted her experience, revealing that her coach informed her about her opponent’s gender identity moments before the match. The opponent, reportedly named Walmsley, had recently joined women’s sports in Canada. While limited information is available about Walmsley, it is known that he relocated from Australia to Canada approximately two years ago and had no prior record of fighting in women’s tournaments in Quebec, suggesting his recent identification with women’s sports.
Bissonnette emphasized the significant physical differences between male and female boxers, citing that male punches have 163% more impact than female punches, even after adjusting for weight differences. She expressed concerns about the physical and psychological risks imposed on female athletes due to a male athlete’s decision regarding personal identity and advocated for separate categories based on biological sex.
After Bissonnette withdrew, the transgender athlete released a statement accusing her of publicly disclosing his transgender identity, expressing fear that such actions might lead to athletes being marginalized or attacked. Instances of female athletes withdrawing from competitions due to concerns about competing against male athletes who identify as women have been increasingly reported across various sports, raising questions about fairness and safety in women’s competitions.
This incident echoes similar occurrences in other sports, such as a female pool player forfeiting a tournament when faced with a biological male identifying as a “trans woman” in the finals. Additionally, concerns have arisen in martial arts competitions where female athletes dropped out over apprehensions of facing males identifying as women. Such scenarios have sparked debates on inclusivity, fairness, and the delineation of sporting categories based on biological differences rather than gender identity.