LPGA Set to Allow Transgender Women to Play

| by Pat Griffin

By Pat Griffin

On October 13, I posted a story about Lana Lawson who is a transgender woman suing the LPGA for the right to play in LPGA sponsored events. Currently LPGA competitions are restricted to golfers who are “female at birth” effectively excluding transgender women. The LPGA added this to their by-laws in the 1970s following transgender tennis player Renee Richards’ successful legal challenge of similar discriminatory policies on the women’s professional tennis tour.

According to an article written by Randall Mell of the Golf Channel, the LPGA is preparing to change their policy to enable transgender women to become members. In a players’ meeting on November 30, LPGA players will be encouraged to vote for a constitutional amendment eliminating the “female at birth” requirement. The change requires a two-thirds majority, but players have been advised by legal counsel that the “female at birth” provision will not stand legal scrutiny. The vote is in direct response to Lana Lawson’s lawsuit.

The LPGA has been out of step with several other golf organizations that have amended their policies to include transgender golfers who meet the requirements identified by the International Olympic Committee in 2004. The U.S. Golf Association, the Ladies European Tour and the British Ladies Golf Union all have allowed transgender golfers to play for 4 or 5 years.

I hope that the LPGA membership will have an opportunity to get some information about the participation of transgender golfers before and after they vote. If they believe they are being forced into a change in policy that they do not want, I fear we will be hearing similar ignorant comments from them that we heard from Caster Semenya’s competition after her eligibility was reinstated.

If the LPGA membership believes that this policy change threatens the “level playing field” by enabling a “man” to compete against them, it will result in prejudice and resentment for everyone. It is really important that the LPGA provides its membership with some good information about transgender identity and the latest information about the effects of gender transitions on physiology to help them make their own transition from an organization that discriminates based on preconceived prejudice to one that will accept transgender women competitors with grace and respect.

We’ll see what happens with the November 30 vote and how the LPGA moves forward into a new era.