Trans golfer poised to make history as first to join prestigious Ladies PGA tour

In these video screen captures, Hailey Davidson speaks on a podcast and plays golf

Scottish golfer Hailey Davidson is poised to become the first trans woman in the world to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour.

Davidson is on the brink of qualifying for 2023 Epson Tour status, the official qualifying tour for the American women golfers organisation.

Out of 310 golfers, the 29-year-old is currently tied for 59th place after the first two rounds of the LPGA and Epson Tour Qualifying School in Palm Desert, Florida, on 18 and 19 August.

She shot a 70, then a 76, with players needing to score under 88 in all three rounds to qualify. The top 100 players of the qualifying rounds will move to Stage II in October, with the final stage in December.

Hailey Davidson made history in 2021 when she became the first trans woman to win a professional US tournament.

She’s previously spoken about the transphobia she’s encountered in sports, something which is already intensifying after reports of her success in the qualifier.

“I’ve seen that it’s not about protecting women’s sports or me having an advantage, it’s just that you don’t like trans people,” she told the Like It Is podcast in July.

“It’s very sad that that’s what it comes down to. In the last couple of months, that’s what I’ve come to learn.”

Since Davidson’s performance, there has been predictable backlash stoked by reports in Fox News and a number of British right-wing outlets including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and GB News.

Many quoted tennis coach Judy Murray, who on 20 August tweeted: “Not fair at all. Protect women’s sports. Listen to the facts, the scientists and the medics, this is wrong.”

Trans golfer knows critics will focus on her gender identity, regardless of how well she plays

Hailey Davidson, only the second trans woman to ever make it to the first stage of the LPGA qualifying school, knew from the get-go her mere existing on the golf field would stir up backlash.

In response to claims that she has an advantage over cis women, she’s long stressed to her many critics that she actually lost 30 yards from her drive since she began medically transitioning.

“I guess that’s what frustrates me the most,” she told Golfweek in 2021.

“If I play bad, then people will feel justified – ‘Oh well, she played bad and wasn’t good enough.’ If I do anything well, it won’t be because of the fact that I put my whole life into this … it would be because I’m trans.”

The LPGA has welcomed trans golfers for more than a decade as long as they have undergone hormonal therapy and gender-affirming surgery, according to the association’s gender policy.

But a growing tide of sporting governing bodies have sought to restrict or even ban altogether trans athletes. Many have relied on trans players’ so-called advantages over their cis counterparts.

The Swimming Federation (FINA)FIFA, World Athletics and the International Rugby League, among others, have all moved to limit trans athletes this year. While in the US, Republican-controlled state legislatures have unleashed dozens of attempts – some successful – to ban trans young people from school and college sports teams.

Though experts have said such bans barely even amount to bans, given that trans athletes are so few and far between. More often than not, they say, the policies rely on what little research has been done to justify outright blanket bans or sky-high eligibility requirements.

One expert previously told PinkNews that the science the bans use is based more on the assumed differences between men and women, rather than between trans and cis athletes. If anything, it’s more based on “opinion” than science.