Three years after undergoing gender confirmation surgery in 2010, Bobbi Lancaster did what no transgender athlete had done before: At the age of 63, the family physician tried to qualify for the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. She didn't make it, but she earned international media attention and went on to become an LGBTQ advocate. Now, a second transgender woman is taking a shot: Golfweek reports that, six years into her own gender transition, 28-year-old Hailey Davidson is on the green at the organization's Q-School, being held this weekend at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
To gain entry to the 72-hole qualifying tourney, Davidson had to show she met criteria under the LPGA's gender policy, which includes a year of hormone treatments—Davidson began those in 2015—and undergoing sex reassignment surgery, which she underwent earlier this year. If Davidson makes it past this qualifying stage, she'll move on to the next stage in October in Florida, reports Outsports. She acknowledges that it's been tough to practice—"due to working a full-time job and not having money for lessons"—and that she has to overcome the bias that still exists toward transgender athletes.
"If I play bad, then people will feel justified—'Oh, well, she played bad and wasn't good enough," says Davidson, who in May earned top honors at the National Women's Golf Association tour, her first pro title. "If I do anything good, it won't be because of the fact that I put my whole life into this ... it would be because I'm trans." But she's overcome adversity before: Born with clubfoot in both feet, Davidson had dozens of surgeries throughout her childhood and teens, describing herself as an "angry" player at the time.
Then, when she was 18, she realized she had to come to terms with her gender identity, and since then she's been moving full speed ahead with her golf career, with the full support of her parents. Among those who will be at Rancho Mirage this weekend to offer moral support: Bobbi Lancaster. "I've tried to give her a sneak peek of what it was like to be accused of being a cheater, to have an unfair advantage," Lancaster says. "Those complaints might happen." (Read more Hailey Davidson stories.)