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!”
Hailey Davidson clinches first win by trans golfer; seeks LPGA inclusion
Hailey Davidson (she/her), a 28-year old social media staffer for Golf Channel, became the first known transgender woman to win a professional golf match.
The Kissimmee, Fla. player prevailed in a Florida mini-tour hosted by the National Women’s Golf Association at Orlando’s Providence Golf Club on May 13.
That same day, Davidson was told that the United States Golf Association accepted her as eligible for competition under its new Gender Policy for USGA Championships.
“Golf has always been my life and while my journey to the tour will be different then most, I am very excited to get my career started,” Davidson says in a personal fundraising statement. “I briefly played professionally prior to transitioning but have not been able to compete since 2015 as a result of my transition due to LPGA bylaws.”
She is glad for being accepted by the USGA.
Their policy states, “In any USGA championship in which it is required that a player is a specific gender (male or female), the player must identify himself or herself during the entry application process as a person of that particular gender.”
Particularly, “In the event that a player has had gender reassignment surgery at any point after puberty, that player must provide certain documentation to the USGA in accordance with the procedures set forth …Gender reassignment prior to puberty is not subject to these requirements.”
Any documentation to verify gender identity is private information, USGA insists.
“The USGA will maintain such information and documentation in confidence, with only counsel, the USGA medical panel, the Chairman of the Championship Committee, and limited USGA staff members having access to such information and documentation.”
In the wake of her win—surpassing golfer Perrine Delacour—Davidson told USA TODAY Beth Ann Nichols, “I’m not just going to be stuck on mini-tours.”
The LPGA—Ladies Professional Golf Association—told local Florida news affiliates that Davidson is being considered for participation in LPGA tournaments through their own, similar gender policy.
They share that like the USGA, the process contains private health information and therefore will remain confidential.
“Our goal at the LPGA is to change the face of golf, making the sport we love more accessible and inclusive. Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of who we are and what we do,” the pro golf organization said.
Like many large corporations, the LPGA has adopted a diversity statement that promotes inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons like Davidson.
“Diversity is about understanding and valuing what makes us different. Dimensions of diversity include—but are not limited to—race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities and appearance, socio-economic status, religion, political beliefs, etc.,” the policy says.