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.