As the LPGA Challenge got underway on Thursday, Lana Lawless was unable to participate.
Why you ask? It was because she was not born a female.
It’s that reasoning that Lawless has decided to sue the LPGA as she claims their “female at birth” policy violates the California civil rights law.
Lawless, 57, had gender-reassignment surgery in 2005. In 2008, she won the women’s world championship in long-drive golf, hitting a 254-yard drive. However, she was considered ineligible this year because Long Drivers of America changed its rules to match the LPGA. So she’s suing them as well.
“It was devastating to me,” Lawless told the New York Times. “How can they say that rule was not changed specifically directed at me if you have a rule that allows me to play and you come back and you change it?”
She has also filed a lawsuit against Dick’s Sporting Goods and Re/Max – the corporate sponsors of Long Drivers of America, as well as CVS which sponsors the LPGA Challenge.
Lawless became interested in playing golf when she saw the long drive championship on TV in 2006. She competed in 2007 and won third place, and won the title in 2008. She has since been sponsored by companies like Bang Golf but lost the sponsorship after she was disallowed into the 2010 championship.
But Lawless claims that she has no edge over the other golfers she’d be competing with, stating that the surgery removed her testes and the hormones that she was given have put her muscle strength in line with a genetically born female.
Also, because Lawless was receiving prize money and sponsorships, she was considered a professional golfer and therefore was not allowed to compete in amateur tournaments – unless she applied to the United States Golf Association for reinstatement.
The USGA allows transgender people to compete, but applying for reinstatement was not something she wanted to do.
Other sports organizations also allow transgender people to compete such as the Ladies Golf Union and the Ladies European Gold Tour. In 2004, the International Olympic Committee allowed transgender people to compete if they had reassignment surgery and took part in at least two years of post-op hormone-replacement therapy.