Mum makes history as first trans woman to swim English Channel in fundraiser relay

Trans woman Charlotte Hale on a boat

A mum has made history as the first openly trans woman to swim the English Channel.

On 17 June, 53-year-old Charlotte Hale swam about 21 miles of the 350-mile-long stretch of water between England and France, with her five-member relay team, named Dickie Bows, in a challenge that took them 18½ hours. 

“It’s an absolute milestone and I’m exhilarated by it,” Hale said.

Hale came out publically in March 2022, with the support of her daughter.

Her segment of the swim took about three hours and was in aid of Safe Haven Cornwall, a charity that supports transgender and non-binary people, their partners and families – and which helped Hale through her transition. 

The Dickie Bows
The Dickie Bows’ English Channel challenge took more than 18 hours. (Charlotte Hale)

She said she wanted to take part in the event to “give others a bit of inspiration to put aside their fears and anxieties and maybe just go for the things they want to do, because I did.”

You may like to watch

The experience was, she said, “cold, very, very frightening” and “quite scary”, especially as she suffers from anxiety. 

Hale, who works as an engineering instructor at Learning and Development in association with Princess Yachts, said she swims almost every day in Cornwall, but being part of a relay team presented a challenge.

Advertisement Remove ads
Charlotte Hale swimming the English Channel
Charlotte’s part of the English Channel swim took about three hours. (Charlotte Hale)

“You have to keep getting on and off the boat, waiting around for three hours in the freezing cold,” she explained. 

“Just getting on and off the boat was a challenge and quite difficult.” 

Despite the pressure of the swim, Hale hopes to compete in many more challenges in the future, including one in Thailand. 

Swim England bans trans women from female competitions

In April, Swim England updated its policy on trans and non-binary athletes in competitive sport, effectively forcing trans swimmers out of the “female” category and into an “open” one in competitive events.

Its policy comes as World Athletics banned trans women who have been through puberty from taking part in female competitions.

Hale said of the bans: “If they actually understood how these hormones work and affect your body, maybe they would rethink the policies. I cannot do the things I used to do on hormones. I think the playing field should be levelled. It’s just wrong.” 

Her swim was not competitive.

The team’s achievement came three days before the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation announced that a solo swimmer attempting to cross had gone missing in the Channel. Following a search, the swimmer has still not been found.

Comments (0)

MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.

Loading Comments