Report: Transgender golfer sues LPGA

Lana Lawless, a former police officer who underwent a sex change
operation five years ago, is challenging the LPGA’s ban on
transgender players.

She filed a federal lawsuit late Tuesday in San Francisco
federal court claiming the LPGA’s “female at birth” requirement for
competitors violates a California civil rights law.

Lawless is seeking to prevent the LPGA from holding tournaments
in the state until the organization changes its policy to admit
transgender players. She is also seeking unspecified damages.

Lawless, 57, also sued three LPGA sponsors and the Long Drivers
of America, which holds the annual women’s long-drive golf
championship. Lawless won the event in 2008 with a 254-yard drive
but was barred from competing this year after organizers adopted
the LPGA’s gender rules.

“I am, in all respects, legally, and physically female,” Lawless
said in a statement Wednesday. “The state of California recognizes
me as such and the LPGA should not be permitted to come into
California and blatantly violate my rights. I just want to have the
same opportunity to play professional golf as any other woman.”

LPGA spokesman David Higdon declined to comment because the
organization hasn’t seen the lawsuit. A spokesman for the Long
Drivers of America also declined to comment.

Lawless said the LPGA is one of the few athletic organizations
to bar transgender competitors. She noted that the International
Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes since 2004 as
long as the competitor underwent surgery and at least two years of
hormone-replacement therapy.

“I could participate in female wrestling in international
Olympic events,” said Lawless.

The LPGA’s CVS/pharmacy Challenge tournament begins Thursday in
Danville.

“Transgender discrimination is at the forefront of civil
rights,” said Christopher Dolan, Lawless’ attorney. “Transgender
people have been pushed into the dark for too long.”

Dolan cited the same state civil rights law when he represented
a transgender woman who sued a Catholic hospital chain in 2008 for
refusing to perform breast implant surgery. Catholic Healthcare
West agreed to change its policy and paid Charlene Hastings
$200,000 to settle the lawsuit.