Transgender Golfer Sets Sights on Competing in LPGA

A ball sits on a tee during the second round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Hailey Davidson is being touted as a transgender woman who could be the first to play professional golf with the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) after winning a mini-tour competing against biological women.

Hope for playing on the pro circuit were boosted after the United States Golf Association (USGA) sent an email saying Davidson that the requirements under that organization’s “gender policy eligibility” had been met.

“I’m not just going to be stuck on mini-tours,” said Davidson, who works in the social media vertical at NBC’s Peacock division.

Florida Today reported on Davidson’s ambitions and how the golfer differs from other transgender athletes who have been in the spotlight:

In January, Davidson underwent gender reassignment surgery, a six-hour procedure. She’s been undergoing hormone treatments since Sept. 24, 2015, a date that’s tattooed on her right forearm.

In 2010, the LPGA voted to eliminate its requirement that players be “female at birth” not long after a transgender woman filed a lawsuit against the tour. Earlier this year, the USGA changed its Gender Policy to shorten the length of time transgender athletes had to wait to compete. Under the previous policy, a player must have undergone gender reassignment surgery at least two years prior to the entry deadline. The revised policy eliminated the two-year period. Gender reassignment surgery must now be completed prior to the championship entry deadline.

Davidson got word in early February, while still in Baltimore recovering from surgery, that she could compete in National Women’s Golf Association events. A tournament-hungry Davidson immediately signed up for a tournament scheduled two months later.

“While this was my first tournament in 6 years, this was also the start to my first tournament as myself, without this massive chip on my shoulder and getting to compete against some amazing women,” Davidson said on Instagram. “It definitely showed I had not played competitively in that long but it’s only up from here!”

Davidson claims that cosmetic surgery and weight loss have caused a loss of nine miles per hour on his swing and a 30-yard reduction on hits off the tee. Davidson said he avoided exercise to trim muscle mass.

“Any advantage that existed is fully gone,” Davidson said in the Florida Today article.

At the mini-tour event on April 20, Davidson shot 72 and finished tied for sixth, three shots behind Paula Creamer and five shots behind winner Megan Osland.

The last time Davidson competed was against men, in 2015, at the U.S. Open qualifying tournament at Admiral’s Cove in Jupiter, Florida.

“We are currently reviewing Hailey’s application to participate in LPGA Tour events under the LPGA’s gender policy,” Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s chief tour operations officer, said in the Florida Today article. ”The policy is designed to be a private and confidential process between the LPGA and the athlete.”

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