Trans Disc Golfer Booted from Women’s Tournament Amid Lawsuit

Disc Golf
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The Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) has won an appeal to keep in place rules that restrict transgender athletes after trans “female” competitor Natalie Ryan filed a discrimination suit from which he was given a temporary right to compete in the woman’s category in the organization’s tournament in California this weekend.

Ryan had sued the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) after the organization had tightened rules for trans members that maintain that trans “women” may only compete if they had undergone transition surgery before 12 years of age or have maintained a testosterone level under 2nmol/L for two years. These rules essentially made Ryan ineligible to compete.

However, on Thursday, ahead of the DGPT’s OTB Open this weekend, U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley ruled in California that the organization was required to allow Ryan to compete as his lawsuit winds its way through the courts. Nunley claimed that some of the PDGA’s new restrictions could be seen as discriminatory, and he ruled that the group could not enforce its rules that exclude Ryan until the lawsuit settles the issue.

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“It appears there was an intentional act, the creation of a policy, that excludes individuals based on their protected status as transgender women,” Nunley wrote in his decision, according to a copy of the filing reported by Ultiworld Disc Golf. “The Court makes no determinations as to whether this is sufficient to actually establish intentional discrimination, but it raises serious questions.”

Still, despite Judge Nunley’s decision, the DGPT filed an emergency appeal on the decision to force it to allow Ryan to play. On Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the organization and allowed it to enforce its ban on Ryan.

The Ninth Circuit did not rule on the merits of the ban but ruled instead on the fact that both Ryan and another member of the tour were citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and federal rules would only allow a court in California to interject itself into the incident if all members before the court were from different states.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay to the lower court’s ruling, asserting that the Court lacked jurisdiction in the case. “It appears that the district court lacks diversity jurisdiction over the [Disc Golf Pro] Tour because Plaintiff and at least one member of the Tour are citizens of Virginia,” wrote the Ninth Circuit, according to a separate report by Ultiworld Disc Golf.

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Bag of multi-colored flying discs used for disc golf on green grass. (Getty Images)

“This order restores the DGPT’s ability to enforce its current policy on Gender Eligibility,” the DGPT said in a statement. “The DGPT will follow the court’s ruling and enforce its Gender Eligibility Policy which will disallow Ms. Ryan from continuing competition in the OTB Open.”

For his part, Ryan had already started the tournament and had landed in fifth place before being told he could not complete the weekend’s games.

In an Instagram post, Ryan vowed that he wouldn’t back down.

“I will not be threatened, I will not be intimidated, I will not be erased. It is a breath of fresh air to be competing where I belong,” he wrote. “To all the trans folks out there that love this sport as much as I do, I’m here for you, we all deserve better.”

Ryan soon pulled that threatening post down and replaced it with one saying, “The DGPT and the PDGA are afraid of metaphor, so I’ve taken down my previous post. Instead, I’m going to make that posts message incredibly clear. My removal for OTB was targeted just as the new policy was. The DGPT is now enforcing rules that is has not place to. They have only done this to hurt me. I will continue to litigate until justice is achieved. I will use this pan to make sure nobody else has to experience it.”

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