Professional women’s pool player Alexandra Cunha (ranked fifth internationally) has decided to boycott competitions featuring individuals not biologically female. This decision comes in the wake of contentious changes to the sport’s rules allowing transgender women to participate in lucrative ladies’ tournaments.
Cunha and numerous other female players are protesting against what they see as an unfair advantage held by trans competitors due to physical differences.
In a recent statement, Cunha expressed her frustration, emphasizing her commitment to fairness in the sport.
She said: ‘Pool is a male-dominated sport, like so many, and these women have worked hard to get their own tour.
‘These organisations know their game is sex-affected. They know women need their own tournaments to grow female participation & opportunities. They must show courage and decency and stand up for women.’
The controversy erupted after the World Eightball Pool Federation (WEPF) altered its stance on trans players’ eligibility in female tournaments on October 24. Initially, WEPF, in collaboration with the Ultimate Pool Group, declared that such events would be exclusively for those born female. However, within eight weeks, this decision was reversed, sparking backlash from female players.
Cunha, the captain of the Portuguese women’s national pool team, detailed her decision to withdraw from the International Rules Pool Tour, stating that she will only compete against players born female. Despite offering to adhere to her own rules of play, she was informed that her entry fee would be refunded.
The dispute revolves around the perceived physical advantages of trans players, including greater upper body strength for a powerful initial break and an extended reach due to longer arm spans.
Over 60 professional female pool players have united against the rule change, forming a WhatsApp support group to voice their opposition.
Olympian Sharron Davies, a vocal supporter of women’s sports remaining single-sex, labeled the decision to include trans players in female pool competitions as “heartbreaking.” She urged sports organizations to prioritize women’s tournaments to foster female participation and opportunities.