FanDuel - WFBC

October 14, 2010

Transgender female sues to play on LPGA: Lana Lawless, who until 2005 was a man, is suing the LPGA in an effort to gain access to its qualifying tournaments. The LPGA has a "female at birth" rule in place. Lawless won the Long Drivers of America women's championship in 2008, but is now LDA ineligible since that group adopted the same "female at birth" standard.

posted by wfrazerjr to golf at 01:29 PM - 51 comments

The LPGA is going to lose this. They had to know that they were out of step when all of the organizations started changing their rules. The LPGA apparently needs to be sued to force compliance with the law.

posted by bperk at 02:55 PM on October 14

"There is no such thing as born female. Either you're female, or you're not."

Idiot.

Let the...idiot, try the same qualifying channels the real ladies of golf have to go through. I bet he doesn't have the game to compete with them.

posted by mjkredliner at 03:10 PM on October 14

It's disrespectful to call her a "he" or suggest she's not a "real" lady. Given the lengths transgenders go to and the often difficult circumstances of their lives, I think simple courtesy is warranted.

As for her qualifying, that's the point of her suit. She isn't being given a chance to qualify.

At age 57, I would not think her strength sufficient to present an unfair competitive advantage on the LPGA tour.

posted by rcade at 03:21 PM on October 14

On the one hand, I can see why the LPGA might be hesitant to allow someone born with testicles to compete. I would imagine that there are differences in strength, regardless of the claims of Lawless.

On the other hand, golf obviously isn't all about the muscle. The largest, strongest players aren't the best by virtue of that size difference. For that reason, and the fact that Lawless has been officially listed as a female, regardless of anyone's personal morality, she should get a chance to do her thing.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:49 PM on October 14

I would imagine that there are differences in strength, regardless of the claims of Lawless.

I don't think there would be a problem if the LPGA made sure that there was a level playing field, but that isn't what they are doing. They just have a blanket ban on any transgender.

posted by bperk at 03:56 PM on October 14

I don't think there would be a problem if the LPGA made sure that there was a level playing field, but that isn't what they are doing.

I think that is exactly what they are doing. At age 57, (s)he is able to win long driving contets against real women. You won't see 57 year old men outdriving the flat bellies on the men's long driving circuit. (S)he clearly has an advantage in her long driving ability. However, I think (s)he probably could not compete with the ladies in what is the essence of golf, which is getting it in the hole in the fewest strokes. Double entendre intended.

Of course, one would think that California tournaments would welcome this person to qualify in their events. Guess I was wrong 'bout that.

posted by mjkredliner at 04:41 PM on October 14

The insistence on referring to someone in a manner other than the one by which they refer to themselves is the essence of bullying. A better person would be ashamed of such.

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:54 PM on October 14

Naw, I just think that if (s)he wants to play the shorter tees, (s)he oughta tee it up against the boys on the senior tour...

posted by mjkredliner at 05:05 PM on October 14

I can understand your position that she shouldn't be allowed on the LPGA based on original gender (though I utterly disagree) - but the whole "(s)he " thing smacks of an old man who can't grasp modernity. Just FYI.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:29 PM on October 14

I'm funny like that, I still say 'good boy' to my gelding.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:56 PM on October 14

I'm funny like that...

No, it is just the texan showing.

posted by steelergirl at 06:01 PM on October 14

Damn. Thought I was doing something wrong there for a minute...

posted by mjkredliner at 06:09 PM on October 14

At age 57, (s)he is able to win long driving contets against real women.

If you want to sound like a bigot, that's your right, but you don't have the right to do it here. Last warning.

posted by rcade at 06:12 PM on October 14

If you want to sound like a bigot, that's your right, but you don't have the right to do it here. Last warning.

Thanks rcade. My neice is transgendered, and the amount of offensive, dismissive, and even threatening language she is exposed to is terrifying to me. people like mjkredliner who think it's no big deal have no idea how damaging these comments can be.

posted by brookish at 07:43 PM on October 14

I'm really not sure what to think about this.

On one hand, it seems the whole point of seperating any sport into mens leagues and womens leagues is to take into consideration the obvious physiological differences between the two genders. Just think if Floyd Mayweather had gotten a gender reassignment operation. Would it be fair for him to fight with women afterwards?

Now I'm not saying anyone has done this for the sole purpose of getting an advantage in sports. I know that these people go through hell living in a body they don't think they belong in, but when leagues make rules they need to be black and white and try to cover any possible scenario.

On the other hand, she went under a huge procedure to become a woman and I can only imagine how offensive it would be for her to be called a man still.

Maybe they should change the names to the XY-PGA and the XX-PGA, and have people take test to determine who goes where...

posted by Andy1087 at 09:15 PM on October 14

If you want to sound like a bigot, that's your right, but you don't have the right to do it here. Last warning.

Blah. I haven't once exhibited hatred or intolerance in this thread. If Lawless wants to consider himself a female, then OK, but don't expect others to make concessions for him. (Mr,Ms,Mrs, take your pick)Lawless is obviously confused about (his/her) gender, and I am obviously confused as to what to call (him/her). Sorry, but all the surgery, makeup, and therapy in the world cannot change what God created. Besides, I've been kicked out of way better joints than this one. So I will spare you the task of lifting your banhammer and resign my highly enjoyable tenure as a SpoFite. By the way, if Lawless had any respect for women, or golf, whatsoever, he would respect the women born women who made the LPGA great , and not put his personal agenda above the inherent fairness of the game, or the early efforts of Betsy Rawls and Babe Didrickson et al whose struggles against gender inequality and their ability to beat most people with a penis at golf are legendary.

A better person would be ashamed of such.

How the hell would you know, Mr. Anus??

And lastly:
the whole "(s)he " thing smacks of an old man who can't grasp modernity. Just FYI.

Weedy, I am 50 years old. And I've worked hard all my life and I bet I can work circles around you in more jobs than you will ever fuckin know. So, I may be old by your standards, but being old isn't why I don't put the feelings of some gender confused person above what is best or right for all the women in golf, it's because anyone can see how obviously wrong this is...I hope.

posted by mjkredliner at 02:45 AM on October 15

cannot change what God created

Yeah, God can be a real bastard, can't she?

posted by owlhouse at 03:15 AM on October 15

Sorry, but all the surgery, makeup, and therapy in the world cannot change what God created.

God created a person who deserves the dignity of being addressed by her chosen gender. I don't know why you went out of your way to be hateful here, but if that's how you want to leave the site you'll get no argument from me.

One last note on this subject. I'm a Texan, too, so don't think all of us are like that.

posted by rcade at 08:36 AM on October 15

How the hell would you know, Mr. Anus??

No need to be rude. There is always room for improvement.

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:14 AM on October 15

I know that these people go through hell living in a body they don't think they belong in, but when leagues make rules they need to be black and white and try to cover any possible scenario.

The LPGA should be required to prove there's a physical advantage for transgendered athletes that would significantly affect the competitive balance of the sport. Discrimination against people for being transgender is against the law, so they have the burden of showing why they want to exclude them.

posted by rcade at 09:33 AM on October 15

God created a person who deserves the dignity of being addressed by her chosen gender.

I could not agree more. I feel that anyone who goes through this surgery deserves to be treated as anyone else of that gender. That being said, I do not think she should be able to play for the LPGA. There are still big physical differences between men and women and while the surgery makes her a woman, the biology does not change.

posted by Debo270 at 09:43 AM on October 15

I'll be willing to say Lawless should be able to play on the LPGA as soon as it can be proven she enjoys no advantage from formerly being a man. Considering she won the LDA women's championship in 2008, I'd think that's going to be pretty tough.

There is always room for improvement.

True enough, but it sure seems like there are a very small number of posters here who think it is their moral imperative to point out where that improvement lies.

I'd think those folks might have some room for improvement by looking in the mirror and working on their superiority complexes.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:28 AM on October 15

I'll work on my superiority complex when someone else has a better one than mine.

posted by rcade at 10:36 AM on October 15

Discrimination against people for being transgender is against the law...

The LPGA is currently allowed to discriminate against men, and gender discrimination is equally against the law. I don't know what the answer is in this situation, but I don't think it's just this simple. As a few people have pointed out above, winning the the long drive competitions certainly seems to point to existence of a competitive advantage.

posted by bender at 10:37 AM on October 15

I'll be willing to say Lawless should be able to play on the LPGA as soon as it can be proven she enjoys no advantage from formerly being a man. Considering she won the LDA women's championship in 2008, I'd think that's going to be pretty tough.

Does that mean the previous winner of the LDA women's championship shouldn't be allowed to participate in the LPGA?

I'm not making the connection.

posted by grum@work at 10:37 AM on October 15

God created a person who deserves the dignity of being addressed by her chosen gender.

12 years of catholic school and never once did I learn anything about the dignity of trans-gender athletes. Are you sure this was God's plan? Or is it rcade's website plan? Seems pretty easy to defend your position if you threaten to hush the opposing argument.

Personally, I have zero issue with surgical solutions to identity crises. Do I then think that everyone should fall in line and think like me? Of course not. This FPP was guaranteed to include strong opinions and beliefs that certainly transcend sports. If you're not going to allow the debate, why allow the FPP at all?

posted by BoKnows at 10:44 AM on October 15

... winning the the long drive competitions certainly seems to point to existence of a competitive advantage.

That logic seems circular to me. If she wins, it was unfair and she shouldn't be allowed to compete. But if she loses at qualification, then maybe it was fair, but she didn't qualify so she can't compete.

What about the possibility that she won because she was simply the best long driver at that competition?

12 years of catholic school and never once did I learn anything about the dignity of trans-gender athletes.

I was raised Catholic and didn't learn until a few years ago that the priest who offered me an altar boy position molested the kids who said yes. One killed himself in his 20s. So I personally regard their tutelage on dignity to be, at best, problematic.

If you're not going to allow the debate, why allow the FPP at all?

Because most people here are capable of discussing the issue without the he-she bullshit. I warned him it was out of bounds and he chose to draw a line in the sand. So it goes.

posted by rcade at 11:09 AM on October 15

I was raised Catholic and didn't learn until a few years ago that the priest who offered me an altar boy position molested the kids who said yes. One killed himself in his 20s. So I personally regard their tutelage on dignity to be, at best, problematic.

I'm not defending the education or the clergy. I'm just saying that a very large portion of that belief system (and most Christian-based belief systems) would not accept trans-gender identities let alone the care of their personal dignities. Their God would never say that. Hence, the strong opposing opinions.

posted by BoKnows at 11:20 AM on October 15

I'm just saying that a very large portion of that belief system (and most Christian-based belief systems) would not accept trans-gender identities let alone the care of their personal dignities. (emphasis added)

Is your Bible missing the parable of the Good Samaritan, or Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well or any number of other people deemed in the culture of the time to be sub-human or beyond shows of dignity, or any of the countless other passages that state or stand for the proposition that all humans have dignity and should be treated with love and respect?

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3.28

posted by holden at 11:36 AM on October 15

That logic seems circular to me. If she wins, it was unfair and she shouldn't be allowed to compete. But if she loses at qualification, then maybe it was fair, but she didn't qualify so she can't compete.

What about the possibility that she won because she was simply the best long driver at that competition?

Obviously, someone had to be the winner of that competition, so it could have been her as much as anyone. I'm not saying that this fact alone should warrant disqualification and is precisely why I worded that "winning the the long drive competitions certainly seems to point to existence of a competitive advantage," rather than something stonger. However, if the primary reason that you have separate leagues for men and women is that men tend to be significantly stonger than women, and the transgender competitor who was born male happened to win the competition that rewards strength, you can't just ignore that. It's certainly relevant to the debate.

posted by bender at 11:37 AM on October 15

I think you underestimate religion. Plenty of religious people would do transgendered people the courtesy of recognizing their chosen gender. Doing the opposite is a huge thing to them, as Brookish said.

In a discussion on Catholic.Com, several Catholics wrestled with the issue of whether having a sex change is a sin. "This is one of those things I think over in my mind. Either I change, or I commit suicide," one transgendered person wrote. "I chose to live and changed. I know many who did no feel that changing was appropriate and they ended up committing suicide over the stress of feeling 'wrong'."

posted by rcade at 11:42 AM on October 15

However, if the primary reason that you have separate leagues for men and women is that men tend to be significantly stonger than women, and the transgender competitor who was born male happened to win the competition that rewards strength, you can't just ignore that.

True. I don't know how I'd rule if the decision to let her play was in my hands. It would depend on the scientific analysis.

posted by rcade at 11:44 AM on October 15

What about the possibility that she won because she was simply the best long driver at that competition?

It's possible, yes. It seems more probable to me that the amount of testerone she's had in her body for >90% of her life gave her an unfair advantage. Do 57 year old women win many long drive contests?

I warned him it was out of bounds and he chose to draw a line in the sand. So it goes.

FWIW, I thought your hammer brandishing was a bit much. Could have just emailed him.

On edit: What bender said. The one time I don't use preview!

posted by tron7 at 11:48 AM on October 15

FWIW, I thought your hammer brandishing was a bit much. Could have just emailed him.

Maybe. But I told him I thought it was disrespectful and then warned him to stop pressing it. He's the one who made it about being banned so he could quit first. Before that, I was thinking about just deleting any more comments from him with he/she stuff.

posted by rcade at 12:08 PM on October 15

It's possible, yes. It seems more probable to me that the amount of testerone she's had in her body for >90% of her life gave her an unfair advantage. Do 57 year old women win many long drive contests?

But, the other women's leagues and even the IOC have some process in place that involves considerations of fairness without blanket discrimination. There is nothing stopping the LPGA from having a more nuanced rule.

posted by bperk at 12:12 PM on October 15

He's the one who made it about being banned so he could quit first.

This is about the only sports site in existence where this topic could be discussed without a ton of he/she type posts. I like that about this place. Whatever you admins need to do to keep it that way, I say keeping do it.

posted by bperk at 12:15 PM on October 15

There is nothing stopping the LPGA from having a more nuanced rule.

The problem is that Lawless seems to hold exactly the kind of advantages that the LPGA is trying to avoid. I would be ok with a more nuanced rule but the IOC process doesn't appear to be strict enough, as I believe Lawless would qualify there.

posted by tron7 at 01:01 PM on October 15

12 years of catholic school and never once did I learn anything about the dignity of trans-gender athletes.

Why be so specific? Our history classes never got past the Civil War, doesn't mean WWII didn't happen. 12 years of Catholic school and all I learned was there's humanity in everyone and it's worth cherishing. But maybe I cherry-picked what I wanted to hear.

For the record, I think ban-a-nation's a little stiff given mjkreliner is clearly in a minority here, politics-wise and I can appreciate that makes one a little more inclined to be strongly worded. Shit stirrers of the world, unite and take over.

posted by yerfatma at 01:16 PM on October 15

Maybe I do underestimate religion. Maybe I had overestimated it in past. Either way, your interpretations of God's ideals are your own and in an FPP like this, expect strong opposition. Seems like you were ready to brandish that hammer fairly quickly. Given that redliner has over 1500+ posts, I thought he deserves a little benefit of the doubt. You can't ask people to adjust their belief system in order to post here. I understand you don't want this site to mimic comments on Youtube, but gees, let the discussion happen before you start thinning the herd.

bender,

I don't own a bible, but that passage is great. Maybe we should talk to some gay and lesbian people and see how they feel about that? See if they feel welcomed in all christian communities.

12 years of Catholic school and all I learned was there's humanity in everyone and it's worth cherishing.

That, I personally agree with and is probably the only lesson I took from my structured education.

But I was so specific because when I was in school (not that long ago-I'm 32), any manner of alternative lifestyle was taboo. Gay, lesbian, trans-gender, pre-marital sex, etc...was simply not accepted. You would go to hell. Simple and done. My point is that that belief still exists, it's not that old.

posted by BoKnows at 01:55 PM on October 15

People can believe what they want to believe, yet still treat others with respect. And, rcade already said that he wasn't considering banning him, he was considering removing comments.

posted by bperk at 02:04 PM on October 15

People can believe what they want to believe, yet still treat others with respect.

I believe that. I don't believe that all organized religions allow their patrons to believe that.

posted by BoKnows at 02:08 PM on October 15

Seems like you were ready to brandish that hammer fairly quickly ...

I appreciate your sense of fairness, BoKnows, but I didn't threaten to ban him. He was warned to stop and chose to press the issue and quit, thinking he'd be banned anyway.

You can't ask people to adjust their belief system in order to post here.

People believe all kinds of things. Some of these beliefs are outside the boundaries of constructive discussion and just lead to flaming (and not the good kind). Treating transgendered people the way he did ought to fall into that category, in my opinion. Do we really need to know -- over several comments -- that he holds these people in contempt?

posted by rcade at 02:10 PM on October 15

but I didn't threaten to ban him. He was warned to stop and chose to press the issue and quit, thinking he'd be banned anyway.

I read your last warning and interpreted a ban. That was my fault. I also conveniently didn't read your explanation that bperk pointed out. Maybe I should have defined it as throwing your weight around instead of as a specific result.

Do we really need to know -- over several comments -- that he holds these people in contempt?

Nope. But holding the commenter in contempt isn't improving anything either. As yerfatma said in a different thread : perfect parity would be boring as hell

posted by BoKnows at 02:29 PM on October 15

I resent him thinking I'm some kid. I'm getting old and am already bald. Can't I at least have the dignity of age? I paid my dues.

And run "fuckin circles" around me? Oh, no you did not mean that. I'm supercalifragilicouskickyourfuckinass awesome.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:15 PM on October 15

Wow very interesting. I do believe in allowing people to express their opinions even if they are considered by others to be offensive. In any case it is a very difficult situation. As an Atheist myself I don't see where religion has any bearing on the discussion, other than the dismissive aspect of a statement like "the bible says" or God intended etc which is usually a sign to me that a persons justification or argument is very weak and without substance or evidence.

How should sports deal with this issue? Well I think that gender reassignment should automatically disqualify a person from most professional sports due the issue of hormone use. Transgender people have to take so many hormones that they probably don't fall into a category of male or female as it relates to sports due the fact they artificially regulate their hormone level and that level has more to do with the differences between men and women than genitalia does. Can a male athlete add testosterone to gain advantage in all male sports. Should a transgender female like this golfer be allowed to compete with women? I would say no. Just due to the fact that if she wants to stop taking her estrogen and other hormones for a short time she will immediately gain an advantage.

I don't believe in discriminating against trans gender people when is comes to basic human rights, but I also don't feel that playing pro sports is a basic human right. Once a person has had the unfair advantage of years of male hormone production and the muscle and skeletal development that goes with it, no genital reassignment is going to erase that advantage. Sports has a history of seeing a transgender female like Rene Richards compete above their skill level against the other females.

As much I feel empathy for what these people go through I think living your live as you wish is more important that being allowed to compete in a professional sport with what undoubtedly is an unfair advantage especially when elevated hormone levels can get you banned in almost any sport. If you are not going to allow other female athletes from using hormones why would you allow a transgender female to use them? Without them, this athlete will quickly revert back to a person that more closely resembles a man. Transgender people often say that in their minds they are one sex and in their bodies another. Well it is your body that is what is required for sports and while I have no doubt that this golfer is a woman mentally, and for most intents and purposes physically, genetically she is competing with a body that has distinct and controllable advantages when competing against natural born females.

posted by Atheist at 06:07 PM on October 15

I don't believe in discriminating against trans gender people when is comes to basic human rights, but I also don't feel that playing pro sports is a basic human right.

I think that's a pretty fair point. Respect and dignity are certainly deserved by everyone, but the right to compete athletically is a horse of a completely different color. I can honestly understand the arguments for both sides and, as long as they are being made without moral judgment, I can respect either outcome. I would support her being able to play, but someone with a different opinion isn't necessarily a bigot.

Someone who mocks her and makes light of the personal struggle is, however.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:45 PM on October 15

Atheist totally hit this one out of the park, excellent points.

posted by Goyoucolts at 08:26 PM on October 15

Atheist, as a devout Catholic, I could not agree more with what you said. Very well spoken. Too bad you didn't get a chance to comment earlier before some of this other foolishness.

posted by jagsnumberone at 02:30 AM on October 16

Atheist said it pretty well. It's a weird gray area, and while transgendered people don't deserve to be called into question as people, some of them might be called into question as athletes who are undergoing medical treatments that might be giving them an unfair advantage.

And before anyone gets mad at me for being someone that just doesn't understand, full disclosure: I have four dicks and a vagina.

in the bottom drawer of my nightstand

posted by Samsonov14 at 04:27 AM on October 16

I think that's a pretty fair point. Respect and dignity are certainly deserved by everyone, but the right to compete athletically is a horse of a completely different color.

...which brings us back to where the thread started, definitely a meaty topic for a sports website. Nowadays, debates about restrictions on competitors tend to get focused on legalities and technicalities, on what competitors can do, and to leave aside any issues of what they should do. So what's right for sports? What standard does a sport use to establish fairness -- and doesn't the pursuit to establish a so-called "level playing field" sometimes become a case of the tail wagging the dog? We're so used to the idea of various leagues having their standards of who may compete that I wonder if we sometimes fail to see just who is being helped (or hurt) by these standards. I think that cases like this serve the useful purpose of getting us to reexamine the rules and standards, and reconsider whether they're doing what they're supposed to do (and whether that is still something we want).

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:13 AM on October 16

l_b_b, you have it right. From the standpoint of what is right and sensible, Atheist is correct. The problem is that there is always some smart-ass lawyer who feels that he has to "stand up for the little guy, the disadvantaged, the downtrodden", and bring one of these asinine lawsuits. It is never right for the sport to be forced into some "unnatural act" (for want of a better term), but name calling, insults, nor offensive slurs will do nothing save give such plaintiffs an aura of moral righteousness they do not deserve. Leave it to the courts, don't make a big deal of it, and let it happen the way it will. Chances are that even if this person is allowed to play in the LPGA, there won't be a huge impact. It's more likely that Lawless will be somewhere down in the pack, long driving notwithstanding.

posted by Howard_T at 06:36 PM on October 16

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