During the 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship in Victoriaville, Quebec, female boxer Dr. Katia Bissonnette chose to withdraw from the competition upon discovering that her opponent, Mya Walmsley, was a male-born transgender boxer. This revelation came merely an hour before the scheduled match, leaving Bissonnette with limited options.
Organized by the Quebec Boxing Federation and the KO-96 boxing club to provide novice boxers a chance to qualify for the Canadian Championship in December, the event took an unexpected twist. According to Bissonnette, her coach informed her at the last minute that Walmsley was not a woman by birth.
In an interview with Reduxx, Bissonnette shared her experience: “I came down from my hotel room to head towards the room where all the boxers were warming up. My coach suddenly took me aside and told me he received information by text message, which he had then validated, that my opponent was not a woman by birth.”
Bissonnette emphasized that Walmsley, who recently moved from Australia to Canada, had a history of boxing as a man. Despite Walmsley’s newcomer status in the Canadian boxing community, the event organizers had him listed with zero bouts as a woman in Quebec.
As Bissonnette withdrew from the match, citing concerns for her safety in the ring, Walmsley was declared the winner by default as no replacement stepped in.
However, the aftermath of this decision led to a public outcry by Walmsley, who is known for political activism at a local university. In a statement, Walmsley criticized Bissonnette for not seeking information from him directly, opting instead to involve the media. He warned of potential consequences for the sport if such accusations persisted.
Bissonnette defended her decision based on safety concerns, referring to a 2020 study from the University of Utah that indicated male blows had 163% more impact than female blows, even when adjusted for weight. She argued that close-contact sports involving transgender athletes pose physical and psychological risks to women.
Expressing her stance, Bissonnette said, “Women shouldn’t have to bear the physical and psychological risks brought by a man’s decisions regarding his personal life and identity. There should be two categories: biological male and female.”
This is in accordance with the opinion of the WBC. World Boxing Council intended to create a new category just for transgender boxers in 2023. WBC president was quoted saying:
“It is the time to do this, and we are doing this because of safety and inclusion. We have been the leaders in rules for women’s boxing – so the dangers of a man fighting a woman will never happen because of what we are going to put in place.”
“In boxing, a man fighting a woman must never be accepted regardless of gender change. There should be no grey area around this, and we want to go into it with transparency and the correct decisions.”
“Woman to man or man to woman transgender change will never be allowed to fight a different gender by birth.”