Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Transgendered Golfer Lana Lawless Can Play in LPGA

In October, we noted that transgendered golfer Lana Lawless had filed suit against the LPGA and the Long Drivers of America to remove rules that banned her from competition. The LPGA players themselves addressed the issue, handing Lawless (and other transgendered women) a win. The players voted Dec. 1 to remove the rule requiring LPGA golfers be "female at birth" to compete in tournaments.

Lawless filed suit to prevent the LPGA and the Long Drivers of America from holding events in California as long as they were allegedly in violation of the state's civil rights laws. Lawless had competed in long drive competitions and won the 2008 championship before the rules were changed to conform to those of the LPGA, making her ineligible.

Other golfing and athletic associations have already deleted such rules and allow transgendered athletes to compete. The International Olympic Committee has allowed transgendered athletes to compete for the last six years, according to USA Today. The IOC allows transgendered competitors as soon as they complete reassignment surgery and at least two years of postoperative hormone-replacement therapy. Other groups with similar rules include the Women's Tennis Association. The United States Golf Association, the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Golf Union in Britain have no rule banning transgendered competitors.

LPGA players recognized it was time for the association to get up to speed on this issue, according to a report by the Associated Press. Player Suzann Pettersen told the AP, "There's really nothing to say. When an organization like the (International Olympic Committee) decides to accept those changes, there's no reason for the LPGA not to. So for my point of view, it was the natural way to go."

Lana Lawless herself feels she is all woman and can fairly compete in women's tournaments. "My estrogen level is higher than probably most genetic females," Lawless told USA Today.

The change in the rules for the LPGA, and maybe even the Long Drivers as well, will take place in the next few weeks.

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