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Golfer Lana Lawless Drives LPGA Rule Change

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 02, 2010 8:49 AM

The LPGA players, collectively, just hit a hole in one.

The players voted to remove the "female at birth" requirement from the association's constitution during their year-end meeting at the LPGA Tour Championship in Florida. One woman who will certainly call the change a win is transgendered golfer Lana Lawless, whose suit against the LPGA spurred the move.

As discussed in a prior post, former police officer and women's long-drive champ Lana Lawless filed suit in October claiming the policy of the LPGA discriminated against her on the basis of her sex in violation of California's civil rights law, the Unruh Act. A second defendant in Lawless's suit was the Long Drivers of America, who changed their rules to mirror those of the LPGA after Lawless won the 2008 tournament. When she wanted to apply to compete in 2009, she was told she was ineligible.

The LPGA players seem ready to accept the change and move on to focus on competition, according to the Associated Press. "We don't need to comment on this because it's a dead issue," player Cristie Kerr said Wednesday. "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."

Kerr, along with others, noted the LPGA was one of the last organizations to remove rules that would ban transgendered players. As USA Today reports, other golfing associations such as United States Golf Association, the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Golf Union in Britain have no rules that would prohibit a transgendered player from competing.

There are still those who are concerned, however, that a younger transgendered female might retain a physical advantage over other female players. Renee Richards, a transgendered tennis player has doubts. "A transsexual person, like it or not as we wish, may be in a special category," she told USA Today.

But Christopher Dolan, the San Francisco-based attorney representing Lana Lawless disagreed. "The misconception here is that all we're doing is putting on lipstick, makeup and a dress. It's not. You're losing your gender."

And gaining a chance to play.

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