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Transgender Athletes Have The Door Shut On Them Amidst Policy Changes

Disc golf pro Natalie Ryan’s remarkable success in 2022 hinted at a promising year ahead in 2023.

However, her aspirations were abruptly halted as she found herself just one shot behind the leader on the opening day of the OTB Open, only to have a U.S. Circuit Court judge revoke her restraining order, leading to her removal from the female competition.

The journey of Natalie Ryan sheds light on the hurdles encountered by transgender women looking to compete in women’s sports, particularly in the wake of policy changes that hinder their participation.

A Battle Against Policies

Just days before the event, Natalie Ryan found herself in a California courtroom, fighting against policies imposed by the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) and the Disc Golf Pro Tour in December 2022.

These policies do not allow trans women who have not undergone certain transition requirements to compete in the Female Pro Open division at major events.

In expressing her frustration, Ryan stated on Instagram, “My removal from the OTB was targeted just as the new policy was. The DPGT is now enforcing rules that it has no place to.”

Transgender Athletes and the Far-Reaching Impact of Policy Changes

The policy changes affecting transgender athletes are not limited to disc golf.

Credits: DepositPhotos

Halba Diouf, a talented French track athlete, found her hopes of competing in this year’s World Athletics Championships and the 2024 Summer Olympics dashed due to a wide-scale policy change by World Athletics.

This change impacted not only transgender women but also cisgender women with “differences in sexual development.”

Frustrated by the situation, Diouf emphasized the need for change, stating in an interview with France 2, “We are no longer in 1940. We can no longer ban transgender women in 2023. Things must indeed change.”

World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe acknowledged the absence of transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics, leading to a lack of concrete evidence regarding their impact on female competition.

Coe stated, “There are currently no transgender athletes competing internationally in athletics and consequently no athletics-specific evidence of the impact these athletes would have on the fairness of female competition in athletics.”

Historical Context of sports competition

Matthew Hodler, a former NCAA Division I swimming athlete and University of Rhode Island assistant professor, highlighted the historical normalization of gender and racial biases in sports.

Hodler stated, “It was one of the sports middle-class white women were allowed to participate in earlier on because it shaped the ‘right’ kind of body for women. It was considered a ‘clean’ sport—they could be graceful in the water. It is bound up in these traditional femininities.”

Credits: DepositPhotos

Read More:Hawaii Department of Health Trains Therapists to Conceal Conversations with LGBT Youth from Parents

Divided Opinions and Call for Positivity

While some athletes, including top touring Catrina Allen, have publicly spoken out alongside anti-trans groups, others have voiced their support for transgender athletes and emphasized the importance of promoting positivity.

Paige Pierce, the recent winner of the weekend’s competition and a prominent figure in the sport, called for unity and stated, “We need to radiate positivity and lift up the people around us no matter how different they are. It makes me sad that this is what disc golf has turned into.”

The controversies surrounding transgender athletes and policy changes extend beyond disc golf, affecting swimming and cycling as well.