California lawsuit changes LPGA Tour position – players vote to allow transgender players revealed

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LPGA Tour Championship

LPGA Tour players have voted to allow transgender players to compete on tour in response to a lawsuit filed by a California woman who had her sex changed five years ago.

The players voted to remove the “female at birth” requirement from the tour’s constitution at a year-end meeting at the LPGA Tour Championship, Commissioner Michael Whan said. He said steps will be taken in the coming weeks to make the change.

Lana Lawless, a former police officer who had the sex change operation, filed the federal lawsuit in San Francisco in October claiming the “female at birth” requirement violated California’s civil rights law. The 57-year-old Lawless wanted to prevent the LPGA from conducting tournaments in the state until it changed its policy and was seeking unspecified damages.

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

“I think it is a major civil rights victory,” Christopher Dolan, an attorney for Lawless, told the Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday. “We are pleased that the LPGA has voted to end this archaic and outdated policy.”

Dolan cautioned that the final changes are not expected for a couple weeks. But he was optimistic the LPGA’s amended policy would allow complete access for transgenders.

“You can vote to end nuclear proliferation, but if you’re still pointing the weapons, all you have is a vote,” Dolan said.

He added there were no immediate plans to drop the lawsuit, especially with Long Drivers of America offering no immediate changes to the policy, but that the lawsuit could be amended before a January hearing.

Players competing this week in Orlando were mostly satisfied with the change.

“We don’t need to comment on this because it’s a dead issue,” Cristie Kerr said. “She can compete if she can qualify. We certainly don’t want to discriminate against anybody, that’s not what the LPGA is about. And if she can qualify, she’ll be able to play. We’re like, the last sports organization to do it, it’s just we’ve never really had to look at it before.

Others who were asked about the vote said they didn’t think a transgender player would be an issue should one qualify to play on tour.

“There’s really nothing to say,” Suzann Pettersen said. “When an organization like the (International Olympic Committee) decides to accept those changes, there’s no reason for the LPGA not to. So for my point of view, it was the natural way to go.”

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LPGA Tour players, executives, partners and friends travel in a Monaco RV speading the word about the Tour’s exciting season and its Florida finale

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Paula Creamer

Before the LPGA Tour season comes to a riveting conclusion December 2-5 with the LPGA Tour Championship at the Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, a host of LPGA players, executives, partners and friends will travel in a Monaco RV to visit with fans and spread the word about the Tour’s exciting season and its Florida finale.

The LPGA Road Trip Driven by Monaco RV / Alliance Coach “kicks off” this weekend with a couple of football games: A visit to Gainesville on Saturday, November 13 for a University of Florida SEC football showdown by former Gators golfer Sandra Gal, followed the next day by a trip to Tampa for an NFL Buccaneers game with LPGA player Karen Stupples, a rabid Bucs fan. The Monaco RV Diplomat will weave around Florida over the next week and a half, wrapping up the Road Trip just prior to Thanksgiving on November 23 with a “Feed the Hungry” visit to Caring Hands Ministry in Wildwood, Florida, home of Alliance Coach, where participants in the Road Trip will prepare special pre-Thanksgiving meals.

Suzann Pettersen

“We’re thrilled to partner once again with the LPGA and its players, who not only know how to entertain and engage their fans, but also open their hearts to the communities where they visit,” said Ryan Lee, Monaco RV Director of Marketing. “As Presenting Sponsor of the Navistar LPGA Classic, we’ve enjoyed great success with the Tour and love the idea of partnering for a fun, interactive road trip.” Added LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan: “Monaco RV’s a great success story—a former small, specialty RV manufacturer that has grown into a thriving company producing annual revenue exceeding $1 billion—so we’re proud to work with them both at our annual Navistar tournament as well as the countdown to the LPGA Tour Championship.”

The LPGA Road Trip Driven by Monaco RV / Alliance Coach also will be supported by LPGA and LPGA Tour Championship partners including Pepsi, Blue Diamond Almonds, Choice Hotels and Florida‘s Natural® Brand.

Besides the aforementioned football events with Sandra Gal and Karen Stupples, the Road Trip also will feature a number of other activities and appearances including:

  • Yani Tseng

    Paula Creamer gets her first up-close view of the new Amway Center during an Orlando Magic game

  • Suzann Pettersen visits Grand Cypress Golf Club for a special media day
  • A visit to the World Golf of Fame & Museum in historic St. Augustine (www.WorldGolfHallofFame.org)
  • Yani Tseng talks about the Race for the Rolex Rankings No. 1 and Rolex Player of the Year during a visit to the Lake Nona area where she lives
  • Sherri Steinhauer defends her title at the Legends Tour Open Championship at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor Nov. 20-21
  • Scheduled appearances by Florida-based LPGA players Na Yeon Choi, Song-Hee Kim, Christina Kim, Amy Yang, Meredith Duncan, Mindy Kim and more.

Media and fans both are welcome to participate in the Road Trip, either in person or via the websites of the LPGA, Monaco RV and Alliance Coach, along with their affiliated Facebook pages, YouTube.com channels and Twitter feeds.

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