Par for the Controversy: Trans Golf Athlete’s Triumph Strikes a Chord in Women’s Golf

In a stunning upset, trans-identifying golfer Hailey Davidson secured a victory in the NXXT Women’s Classic in Florida last week, propelling him into first place in the league and closer to a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) qualifying tour. The victory, nevertheless, has sparked discussions about transgender athletes’ roles in women’s sports once again; Davidson addressed the matter on “Good Morning Britain.”

Davidson, a former member of a men’s collegiate golf team, acknowledged the advantages he had before undergoing gender surgery, stating, “Going back even four years ago or even before I had surgery, I had an advantage. I would 100% agree with that.” However, he argued that his physical capabilities have significantly transformed post-surgery, diminishing the perceived advantage.

Having formerly competed at Christopher Newport University on the men’s team, Davidson’s journey has been marked by a significant transformation. The athlete underwent transgender surgery in 2021 and has been under hormone therapy since 2015. Davidson highlighted a substantial decrease in swing speed and a shorter tee shot distance since beginning hormonal treatments to address any potential biological advantage. The golfer underwent a remarkable weight loss journey, shedding 90 pounds in the last 300 days, guided by a doctor’s requirements before surgery.

During the interview, Davidson expressed his belief that trans individuals should not be banned from sports but emphasized the need for clear guidelines. For example, what if you were to put a transgender person on hormones for a year instead of surgery? Sure, he said, “for the most part,” they will have it better, stressing the need for equitable policy.

Despite the victory, Davidson faces criticism and safety concerns, with accusations of an unfair advantage due to the ability to hit the ball further than biologically female players. The backlash prompted NXXT Golf CEO Stuart McKinnon to address the matter, emphasizing the organization’s commitment to transparency and thoroughness. McKinnon called for additional testosterone testing for Davidson to ensure compliance with guidelines, indicating a potential shift in transgender policies following player feedback.

In response to the outcry, Davidson questioned the fear surrounding his success in women’s golf, expressing confusion over the intensity of the backlash.

The current “Gender Policy” allows anyone who has had a change from being a male to a female after puberty to be able to join the LPGA and play in tournaments. The LPGA, grappling with similar controversies, abolished the requirement that golfers be “female at birth” in 2010, following a legal challenge asserting a violation of California civil rights law.

The evolving landscape of transgender policies in golf is further highlighted by the USGA’s recent change, reducing the waiting time for transgender athletes to compete. The new policy does away with the two-year waiting period for gender reassignment surgery and instead requires its completion prior to the championship entry date.

Davidson criticized the now-discarded two-year rule, labeling it as transphobic and suggesting it was designed to discourage transgender athletes. When asked about it, Davidson remarked that it seemed like an attempt to delay things for two years in the hopes that people would give up by then.

Davidson’s triumph in the NXXT Women’s Classic secured his position at the top of the season’s leaderboard and raised questions about the evolving landscape of women’s golf. With a total season earnings of $4,206.84 and leading in both Eagles and Birdies on the NXXT Women’s Tour, Davidson’s success challenges traditional notions of fairness in sports.

Davidson’s journey, marked by controversy and triumph, catalyzes a broader conversation about the future of women’s golf and the evolving dynamics of sports in a changing world.