The L.P.G.A. takes its first step in allowing transgender players

L.P.G.A players voted this week to allow transgender players to compete on tour by removing the “female at birth” requirement from the tour’s constitution. The vote was in response to a lawsuit filed by Lana Lawless, a 57-year-old MTF golfer who claimed that the rule violated California civil rights law.

Lawless had sex reassignment surgery in 2005 and started competing in women’s long-drive golf. In 2008, she won the world championship, but was barred from the competition this year when the Long Drivers of America, which oversees the championship, adopted L.P.G.A rules. That organization has not announced whether it will go along with the change.

The final changes to the policy will take a few weeks, but Lawless’ attorney is optimistic that the amendments will allow complete access for transgender players.

L.P.G.A. players that spoke to the press seemed fine with the change. ESPN spoke to Cristie Kerr, who said, “We don’t need to comment on this because it’s a dead issue. She can compete if she can qualify. We certainly don’t want to discriminate against anybody, that’s not what the LPGA is about. And if she can qualify, she’ll be able to play. We’re like, the last sports organization to do it, it’s just we’ve never really had to look at it before.”

The U.S. Golf Association, the Ladies Golf Union in Britain and the Ladies European Golf Tour already have adopted International Olympic Committee rules allowing transgender women to compete.

Other players said that they didn’t think having a transgender player would be an issue, as long as she qualified. I hope that’s a true reflection of player sentiment. And I hope the players received some educational information about transgender issues in the process leading up to the vote. (If not, will someone please talk to Anna Rawson soon?)

Kudos to the L.P.G.A. for its willingness to acknowledge the right of transgender women to join the tour. Who knows? Maybe next they’ll do the same for lesbians.

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