Well, I’m sure you’ve read all about Lana Lawless and her victory at the 2008 Re/Max World Long Driving Championships. But for those who haven’t kept up on this, Lana is a transitioned athlete – Lana was once a man and is now a woman.
Okay…so that’s old news. Who really cares? Well, it would seem that 582 commentors on that Golfweek story cared, and so now I care.
I felt compelled to dig into the issue a little deeper. I wanted to understand the history of transgenders in sport and the attitudes of those who compete with them. The USGA rules say Lana can compete in golf. So no one can argue with that, but how do the other athletes really feel about a 6′ 2″, 55 year old (who once was a 245 lb S.W.A.T. cop in Southern California) now competing with them in a power sport?
I decided to call on our good friend from Big Break Michigan, Sally Dee, who was the Long Drive Champion in 2004 and competed with Lana last fall in Nevada for the 2008 title right up to the semi-finals.
Remember now that the semi-finals were set up as a match play event (which seems a bit bizarre to me for a long drive competition – why not let the 4 ladies just belt it out to see who is the longest?). Anyway, Sally didn’t compete directly with Lana – Sally competed with Phillis Meti.
Check out the graphic below… Sally and Lana hit the same length of shot in the semi finals. Hard to imagine being that close and not winning. But, unfortunately, Meti hit a bomb and beat out Sally in the semi’s, so Sally didn’t go club to club with Lawless. But I wonder what would have happened if she had…
Transitioned athletes are not something new. We’ve seen quite a bit about them throughout sport history…
In 2004 the International Olympic Committee released a policy allowing transitioned athletes to compete in the Olympics, if they met with a number of requirements.
Later that same year, the Ladies European Tour allowed Mianne Bagger (who had sex reassignment surgery in 1995) to compete on their tour. Closely following that, the Australian LPG Tour removed the ‘’female at birth’ clause, which allowed Bagger to compete in the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour.
In 2005, the United States Golf Association announced its new ‘gender policy’ that allowed transitioned athletes to compete in USGA golf championships.
Now, here’s what really interested me…the LPGA has never waived on its stance – In their eyes, a woman must be “born female” to compete on the LPGA. Interesting…don’t you think? Sometimes you have to wonder about the LPGA. They are the first to impose English language requirements on their players and the last to adopt transgender policies that have been around for years. They sure do march to a different drummer than the rest of the sports world.
Well, I just had to ask Sally what she thought about Lana playing in a woman’s event and how it directly affected her. Here’s what she had to say…
I want to thank Sally for sharing her thoughts on this very controversial topic. It’s a complicated issue and I’m just glad I don’t have to make the tough decisions on what’s right and wrong.
What do you think? I’d love to know.