LPGA Players Vote to Allow Transgender Golfers

LPGA Tour players have voted to revise the organization's constitution by removing the "female at birth" requirement. The change came about following a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman over the provision.

The announcement was made by LPGA commissioner Michael Whan after the vote was completed at a Tuesday meeting. "Steps will be taken in the coming weeks to make the appropriate changes to the language of the constitution," Whan said in a statement.

The players are in Orlando for this week's LPGA Tour Championship, which starts Thursday at Grand Cypress Golf Club.

The move was spurred when Lana Lawless, a 57-year-old who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2005, sued the LPGA (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/transgender_woman_sues_lpga), claiming the tour's "female at birth" policy violated California's civil rights law. In 2008, she won the women's long-drive world championship with a 254-yard shot. But because the Long Drivers of America (LDA) changed its rules to match the LPGA's, rendering her ineligible in 2010, Lawless sued that group as well.

The suit also sought an injunction to bar the LGPA and LDA from holding tournaments and qualifying events in California (which held three LPGA events this year) as long as they continue to deny post-operative transgender competitors.

"Mike explained the situation, and players understood what had to be done," said LPGA president Michelle Ellis. "There isn't a lot more we can say about it right now. We're trying to handle this the best we can."

Other sports organizations have already modified their bylaws to allow transgender participation. These groups include the International Olympic Committee, United States Golf Association, Ladies European Tour and British Ladies Golf Union.