Transgendered golfer suing after tournament ban
Published 14/10/2010 | 10:30
A transgendered golfer, who was born a man and became a woman, is suing the sport's American professional body because it will not allow her to enter its tournaments.
Lana Lawless, 57, has filed a lawsuit against the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), because it requires members to have been "female at birth".
The US organisation states that accepting golfers who were born men into the women's tour would be unfair as they would have a physical advantage.
Miss Lawless, of Palm Springs, California, claims that by excluding her the LPGA is in violation of the state's civil rights laws.
She is seeking damages and an injunction to prevent it from holding tournaments in California while it continues to exclude transgendered people.
She is also suing Long Drivers of America, which banned her from this year's women's long-drive golf world championship – which she won in 2008 – after changing its rules to match those of the LPGA.
Several corporate sponsors that endorse the golfing organisations are also named in the lawsuit filed by Miss Lawless, a former police officer who underwent a sex-change operation in 2005.
"I just want to have the same opportunity to play professional golf as any other woman," Miss Lawless said.
"I am, in all respects, legally, and physically female. The State of California recognises me as such and the LPGA should not be permitted to come into California and blatantly violate my rights."
Her lawyer, Christopher Dolan, said in a statement. "California's civil rights laws prevent discrimination against all minorities, including transgender persons."
A spokesman for the LPGA said: "We have no comment because we haven't seen the lawsuit." A spokesman for Long Drivers of America said: "We have no comment at this time".
Transgender groups pointed out that over recent years other sports had adjusted their rules to allow transgendered people to enter.
The International Olympic Committee dictates that an athlete must have had sex-change surgery and two years of hormone-replacement therapy before they can compete in their new gender category.
In 2004 Mianne Bagger, a Danish golfer, became the first transsexual woman to play in a golf tournament. She continues to tour in Australia and Europe, but she too was turned down by the LPGA.