‘They Need to Publicly Apologize’: Major Swimwear Brand Forced to Backtrack After Partnering with Trans Surfer

Aussie swimwear brand Rip Curl is getting ripped for teaming up with a trans athlete to promote its women’s surf collection after seemingly parting ways with world-famous surfer Bethany Hamilton over her opposition to biological males competing in female sports.  

The backlash came after Rip Curl featured trans longboarder Sasha Jane Lowerson in social media promotion for women’s surfing last week. The brand has since quietly removed the posts.

On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Britt Mayer, founder of Rooted Wings, to discuss the controversy and what Rip Curl needs to do to repair its reputation.

[Editor’s NoteYou can learn more about Megyn’s position on preferred pronouns here.]

Rip Curl Ripped

Rip Curl came under fire after a January 25 post on its Instagram page featured Lowerson – a trans Western Australian professional longboarder who competed as a man under the name Ryan Egan until transitioning in 2021 – as part of its ‘Meet The Local Heroes of Western Australia’ campaign.

The swimwear maker has subsequently worked to remove any trace of the promotion from the internet, but it hasn’t stopped customers from voicing their outrage. The campaign came on the heels of Rip Curl cutting ties with Hamilton, a pro surfer and shark attack survivor, reportedly due to her stance on trans athletes competing in women’s sports.

Last February, Hamilton posted a video criticizing the World Surf League (WSL) for passing a rule that would allow trans competitors in the women’s division. She suggested the WSL instead create a separate category for trans athletes. “This concerns me as a professional athlete that has been competing in the World Surf League events for the past 15-plus years,” Hamilton said at the time.

She ultimately declared that she would not “be competing in” or “supporting” the World Surf League “if the rule remains.”

While Rip Curl has not commented on the controversy surrounding Lowerson’s campaign, Hamilton made her opinion known on X. “Male-bodied athletes should not be competing in female sports. Period,” she tweeted on Monday.

Apology Needed

Lowerson has also been quiet since the controversy began, but Megyn said that The Megyn Kelly Show obtained pictures of the surfer from social media before the accounts were made private. “He is trying to pose as a woman, trying to look sexy, but it is an obvious man in women’s lingerie,” she said. “This is who they replaced an actual woman with as their spokesperson.”

In this particular case, Megyn said the “silver lining” is that Rip Curl seemed to get the message pretty quickly. But Mayer wasn’t so sure that’s enough. “I think that these corporations and companies want to play this game, and it is such an offense,” she said. “If they think that they can just take it down quietly in the dark night and then we’ll be okay with it, no.”

She said an explicit acknowledgement of where the brand went wrong is needed. “They need to issue a public apology for having the audacity to pretend that a man can be a woman and make a point to apologize to us women,” Mayer said. “I’m done with these little quiet tactics… to make it go away. No, you need to be held accountable to what you did.”

Much like Bud Light customers took their business elsewhere in the wake of the beer maker’s partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Mayer said women shopping for swimsuits should consider doing the same. “Summer is coming, maybe it’s RIP to Rip Curl. Don’t buy the suit,” she concluded. “Until these major corporations want to actually publicly say they are sorry and they did wrong, we’ve got to stop supporting them.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Mayer by tuning in to episode 713 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.