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7 December 2010, 9:00 am 5 Comments

Sports: LPGA Rescinds Policy Against Trans Women

Submission by Sylvia Renee, TNG columnist

Lana Lawless, despite what you might think, is not a comic book vigilante.

However, in 2008 she did win the women’s world championship in long-drive (golf for those of you who don’t know). Afterwords, the LPGA changed its constitution in order to prevent her from defending her title. You see, Ms Lawless is a trans woman and thus obviously had some kind of super power that gives her an advantage over her competition – even though she had bottom surgery and been on hormone replacement therapy for years. These qualifications are good enough for the International Olympic Committee, but not for the LPGA.

With a clear case of discrimination on her hands, Lana Lawless took her case to the courts. And the LGPA voted to rescind its policy against trans women.

In an interview with the New York Times she made an excellent point regarding her gender appropriate birth certificate. “It doesn’t say ‘female-ish.’ There is no such thing as born female. Either you’re female, or you’re not.”  The real issue here though, is how invested some institutions are in ascertaining a person’s “true” gender – ie the one that makes for a convenient excuse to decide if they get access to the tree house. Remember Castor Semenya and everything she had to go through just to prove that she was female enough to have “fairly” won the competition? I could be wrong since it has been a few years since I was competing as an All American athlete, but isn’t it usually the case in sports that one competitor has some kind of advantage over another? Why does this difference in ability have to be attributed to genitalia.

Biology is not so simple as two chromosomes coming together to create the characteristics we have assigned to genders. Any kind of difference is not deviation from the script. It would be more accurate to say that two or more chromosomes start dancing together, add some purple, a dash of leftward movement, and the number five with the resulting goop being a kind of appearance. Yellow, up, and 9 makes something else.

Lana Lawless is not a super hero, even if her goop does happen to give her the ability to hit the hell out of a golf ball.

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  • Andrew Dimpfl said:

    Interesting post… I had not heard about this before this. I have a difficult time understanding how the genetic physiology of a male born body versus a female born body does not disqualify her. Not to make it a discriminatory statement but men are just built differently than women as far as musculature. How is it fair that this former ‘man’ is able to compete in a women’s league? As an MTF I think it would still be fair to allow ‘her’ to compete in a men’s league but I think it’s slightly unfair to allow ‘her’ to compete in a women’s league. Maybe i’m wrong. I’m just looking at pure biology and how a body is built.

    I’m not trying to be offensive, so I apologize if I am, It just seems unfair to me, to the other biological women in the league.

  • Sylvia Renee said:

    Like I said in the article, there is usually some kind of advantage between competitors. But beyond that, there really is not such a thing as “pure biology,” at least to the extent that could create easily discernible abilities. There are a lot of environmental factors that go into human potential such as nutrition, training, or even the amount of time spent being socialized on appropriate levels of physical activity, which can have long term impacts on how musculature can develop.

    Human bodies are not so easily put in camp A or camp B. There are women who are faster, taller, stronger, more flexible, more agile, or more anything compared to male-bodied and identified people. Just as there are other bodies that are better at these same tasks than someone else. For the most part, actually physical ability does not differ that much between so-called average bodies (which in itself contains a whole minefield of able-ist assumptions).

    Also, in the future please do not put quotation marks around a trans persons appropriate gender. It is extremely offensive as you are imposing your own beliefs about what is an appropriate gender on her, effectively saying that you know her gender better than she does.

  • Andrew D said:


    My apologies if the quotations came off as offensive that was not my intention. I find it difficult to find the correct wording at times in relation to trans persons. In the past when I’ve interacted with trans folk, they have often given me the correct wording with which to address them. I’ll attempt to be more aware in the future.

  • kay said:

    it seems to me that you know you are being offensive and discriminatory if you have to introduce your statements as “i’m not trying to be, but…”

    and the biology argument has been used for centuries to keep people separate. doesn’t make it any more appropriate to use it against trans people now than it did against black men and women during slavery (they’re mentally slow and meant to work in the fields, right?) or (mostly white) women (they’re emotional, irrational, and must stay in the home, right?)

    questions always work better than assumptions.

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