Australian Jamie Gumbrell, a male croquet player, has taken the most prestigious women’s title in the sport. It is the first known global women’s top spot being awarded to a male.
A large number of competitors are furious about his inclusion in the female category.
English team member Sue Lightbody said they were not informed they would be competing against a male who self identifies as a woman:
“There was a huge amount of disquiet,” Lightbody said. “But nobody was prepared to say or do anything. I was quite sick about the situation. We thought it would go against us, that we wouldn’t be picked for another team. Everything was hush-hush, everyone was worried about being called transphobic. People told me not to get involved, saying, ‘Don’t do anything, you’ll make yourself very unpopular’. But this just shouldn’t happen. It fundamentally isn’t fair.”
Croquet’s gender policy is essentially one of pure self-ID, allowing players to compete according to the “gender identity that they persistently and consistently use”. Ian Burridge, president of the WCF, said: “The fact that Jamie was assigned male at birth is not disputed by anyone. Jamie now identifies as female as her entry into the world championships was determined in accordance with our policy, approved by our members in April 2022. We welcome feedback, given the concerns that exist around speaking out in this area.”
Leading female players argue that Gumbrell, having gone through male puberty, carries immutable physiological advantages in golf croquet. Unlike association croquet, the sport incorporates elements of strength and stamina. “A key shot in golf croquet is the jump shot,” Lightbody explained. “If you’re on the boundary, you can jump over a couple of balls and get through a hoop. I can only do mid-jumps, I can’t do one from the baseline. But Jamie can. That is a huge advantage over a woman.”
Another female international involved at the worlds, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s not just jump shots. To hit a ball that weighs 500 grams 20 metres, I have to use 80 per cent of my strength. The more strength you use, the more precision you lose. Endurance is also a factor. But in a sense, the ‘why’ is not so important. The world rankings, where only 12 of the top 100 players are women, prove that there is a difference.
“We never thought we would have this problem. I really felt sorry in the final for Rachel, who at the end was hiding behind her sunglasses because she was crying. She didn’t complain. She had been training so hard to be the women’s world champion, and then someone born male comes and takes it away.”
Gumbrell won awards in male competition and now he is stealing the honour from women.
Enabled by the association, he is using his advantage to beat women.
He has previously won the Australian and NSW titles and was undefeated over a 5 day competition. Now he has the Women’s World Championship title as well.
Awarding him female honours makes a mockery of the sport and women.
What is the point of having a female division if males can self-identify as female and trounce all over the women?
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