Surfer Bethany Hamilton faces backlash for her criticism of WSL's new transgender guidelines

Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton has vowed not to compete in any upcoming World Surf League championship events if the organization goes forward with its new policy on transgender athletes.

Her comments fueled a passionate debate in the surfing community, leading Hamilton to clarify her comments in a follow-up post.

The WSL's new rule would mirror the one recently adopted by the International Surfing Association that requires trans-female athletes to maintain an established testosterone level to compete in the women's division.

Hamilton, a devout Christian, said the new rule "concerns" her and she would prefer to have a new division created in which transgender surfers could compete separately.

"I personally won’t be competing in or supporting the World Surf League if this rule remains," Hamilton said in an Instagram post on Sunday.

STAY UP-TO-DATE: Subscribe to our Sports newsletter now!

"I personally think that the best solution would be to create a different division so that all can have a fair opportunity to showcase their passion and talent," she added.

Hamilton responds to 'cruel' backlash

After receiving criticism on social media to her original video, Hamilton claimed in a follow-up post Tuesday that the policy is "not supported by a majority of women currently competing on the tour."

She added that she doesn't regret speaking up about the controversial issue.

"I knew the hammer of mean and cruel and harshness would be thrown down on me for not going with the flow, for having a different opinion, for being open and sharing my questions, thoughts and my opinion on the new rules," she said.

Goals of WSL's new policy

The WSL said it was changing its policy to be more in line with established Olympic guidelines in other sports.

"The WSL is working to balance equity and fairness, and we will continue to evaluate the policy in the months and years ahead as more research, information, and feedback are available," the organization said in a statement on Monday.

Bethany Hamilton competes in the 2010 US Open of Surfing at the Huntington Beach pier.
Bethany Hamilton competes in the 2010 US Open of Surfing at the Huntington Beach pier.

Hamilton, 32, rose to prominence in the surfing world when she lost her arm in a shark attack at the age of 13. She recovered from her injuries to become a national champion and one of the sport's most recognized stars.

Transgender issues in other sports

The issue of transgender athletes has sparked controversy in numerous sports recently, with several states looking to enact laws preventing those athletes from competing as their preferred gender.

In perhaps the most high-profile case, swimmer Lia Thomas won an NCAA Division I women's national title last year for the University of Pennsylvania after previously competing for Penn's men's squad.

"The biggest misconception, I think, is the reason I transitioned," Thomas told ABC News and ESPN last May. "People will say, 'Oh, she just transitioned so she would have an advantage, so she could win.' I transitioned to be happy, to be true to myself."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bethany Hamilton responds to backlash on WSL transgender policy stance