Women protest at Hastings United football match where transgender goalkeeper Blair Hamilton played

A heated online debate erupted after protestors criticised Hastings United women’s Team’s decision to play transgender goalkeeper Blair Hamilton during their 11-1 victory against Bexhill United Ladies on Sunday (May 8).

Blair Hamiton, a 32-year-old PhD student at the University of Brighton, has played for The U’s since January 2020.

She received national attention when she was called up to the England Universities Women’s squad in March, leading to Hastings United releasing a statement condemning the abuse she received online.

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The ‘Save Women’s Sport’ protest by Hastings and Rother Women’s Rights Network was held before and during Hastings United’s end of season game.

Blair Hamiton, 32, has played for The U’s since January 2020. She received national attention when she was called up to the England Universities Women’s squad in March, leading to Hastings United releasing a statement condemning the abuse she received online. Photo by Jon Smalldon. SUS-221005-122549001

They protestors handed out fliers which argued it was unfair for Bexhill United Ladies to play against the transgender goalkeeper.

It said: “Blair Hamilton, the Hastings United goalkeeper, is a 6-foot footballer who used to play men’s football.

“Is this fair to Bexhill women footballers? Is this fair to the Hastings woman who lost her chance to play in goal for her team?”

News of the protests caused a fierce debate on Twitter, with many pointing out the players themselves had no problem with the selection.

Hastings United finished their season with an 11-1 victory over rivals Bexhill United Ladies. The U's missed out on promotion by one point, but ended up with the best attack and best defence in the league. Photo by Jon Smalldon. SUS-221005-122559001

Billy Wood, the chairman and CEO of Hastings United, defended the team and goalkeeper against the criticism.

He tweeted: “Ask the women involved in the sport, in the competition and in action how they feel? We as a club adhere to the rules of the FA, simple as.

“These people seriously should’ve gone down to Eastbourne for a Toby Carvery as they absolutely wasted their Sunday.”

Hastings United player Nicole Baitup tweeted: “The real question is, is our player okay? Think about her mental health. Disgusting behaviour.

“It’s 2022 get over it. We’re happy to play with her, the FA have allowed it. Do yourself a favour and leave. Hard enough being accepted into this world as it is without your uneducated opinion.”

Hastings and Rother Women’s Rights Network said in a statment: “On Saturday, some of us held a stall in Bexhill town centre. We were overwhelmed by the positive response which we were given. The vast majority of people agreed with our message. Many spoke from personal experience such as playing sports themselves, coaching sports teams or teaching PE. There was almost universal outrage at the obvious unfairness.”

It added: “The weekend’s actions caused quite a stir on Twitter. One of the Hastings women players disagreed with our protest as did Billy Wood and a few other men. However, our posts received hundreds of likes and dozens of people tweeted in support of women’s sports, many making the point that sport is played with bodies and not identities; biology matters.”

Blair did not get involved in the debate but thanked fans for their support in a tweet.

She said: “Big thanks to all those who supported me, including the management, the players and fans. You have been incredible these past two seasons.”

The 11-1 victory closed out the season with Hastings United narrowly missing out on promotion by one point.

They finished with the best attack in the league, scoring 80 goals, and the best defence in the league, conceding just 10 goals.

Bexhill United used the final game of the season to raise money for charity. They raised £136.89 for St Michael’s Hospice.

Hastings United, Bexhill United, and Blair Hamilton have all been contacted for comment.