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Friday, November 26, 2010

The LPGA Seems Set to Welcome Transgender Women

By Michael A. Jones -

If things move according to plan, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) could be set to overturn a more than 30-year-old policy that prevents transgender women from playing golf in LPGA-sponsored events. That policy says that LPGA players must be "female at birth," else they are disqualified from competition.
The move comes following a complaint issued last month, where 57-year-old Lana Lawless filed a lawsuit after she was barred from participating in the 2010 Long Drivers Championship of America event. Organizers of the competition, which adopted the same rules as the LPGA, said that because Lawless was transgender, she was unfit to compete in the event.
If that sounds like discrimination to you, you wouldn't be alone. That's why scores of folks have written the LPGA and asked them to rewrite their rules to allow for full inclusion in their sport. And pending a vote on November 30, that's exactly what the LPGA seems intent on doing.
As Pat Griffin notes on her excellent sports blog, there will be a players' meeting on November 30, where the LPGA will encourage its players to vote for a constitutional amendment eliminating the “female at birth” requirement. In so doing, they would open up the sport to players like Lawless, who are no more or less qualified to participate in the sport than players who were born female.
"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," Griffin writes on her blog. "The U.S. Golf Association, the Ladies European Tour and the British Ladies Golf Union all have allowed transgender golfers to play for four or five years."
The vote to eliminate the "female at birth" clause from the LPGA constitution requires a two-thirds vote. But the LPGA is telling its members that the principle probably won't stand legal scrutiny, and should be stricken from the Association's constitution.
Meaning that either way, it looks like this policy is going the way of Clear Pepsi -- headed toward extinction. But the sensitivity around the issue will still remain, which is why Griffin says that the onus is on the LPGA to inform all of its members about the reality of transgender athletes. The common myths and stereotypes that some will put forward, undoubtedly, is that the LPGA is kowtowing to activist pressure and allowing a "man" into a "woman's" sport. But those concerns don't reflect reality or science.
"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," Griffin concludes in her blog post.
And she's right. The LPGA's own mission is to "inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the best golf professionals in the world." Golfers like Lawless will only help make that mission come alive.


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