After announcing in March 2013 her intention to join the LPGA tour, 63-year old transgender woman Bobbi Lancaster has so far netted mixed results.
In August, Lancaster failed to advance to the second stage at an LPGA qualifying tournament held in Rancho Mirage, Calif. However, she was accepted into the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s developmental program. There, she’ll hone her skills before making another attempt to qualify.
Lancaster's goal, to compete in a professional sport, is not new for transgender athletes. From tennis player Renée Richards's battle to compete in the U.S. Open, to Fallon Fox’s foray into the world of mixed martial arts, the fight for one’s right to compete in-line with their identified gender has continued nearly half a century.
Richards had to file a lawsuit in order to make her way onto the court at the U.S. Open. Fox has found herself having to wade through each state’s list of individual licensure rules. For Lancaster, though, this isn’t an issue. Following a 2010 lawsuit by Lana Lawless, the LPGA voted to allow transgender women in competition.
In fact, Lancaster has in the past implied that the LPGA's rules are too lenient, giving an unfair advantage to transgender athletes. In an interview in March with the Arizona Republic, which has chronicled her quest, Lancaster spoke out against the current rules. Those comments are getting renewed attention because of an update on her quest published by USA Today on Monday.
“I think it’s very fair that I’m playing against the caliber of players I’m playing against, because I have no advantage there,” she told the newspaper, referring to her decision to compete against the younger and more competitive LPGA golfers, rather than those on the age 45 and up Legends Tour. “For me to be allowed to play against women my age, I have a huge advantage. It’s not fair, and that’s why I’m probably not playing against them, because I feel like I have undue advantage with my length. I was a male, exposed to testosterone most of my life.”
Lancaster saying that transgender athletes have a natural advantage over their cisgender (non-trans) counterparts runs contrary to stances taken by the rule-making agencies within the International Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and a number of state licensing boards.
Kelli Busey at the blog planetransgender took issue this week with Lancaster’s statement, writing, “Lancaster needs to be reminded that she is not the only trans woman who aspires to play in the LPGA, or any other sport, for that matter.” Busey argues that being transgender doesn’t necessarily result in an advantage, saying, “Many trans athletes do not have the physical attributes she describes… Many younger transgender people haven’t had testosterone or estrogen affect their bodies as they matured through adolescence due to elective puberty-blocking drugs.”
On the following page, watch video of the original interview with Lancaster.
The following video was originally published by the Arizona Republic in March, and is getting renewed attention after being shared this week by USA Today.