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Transgender woman wins Florida mini-tour event, sets sights squarely on LPGA

It was, by all accounts, an unforgettable day for Hailey Davidson. On May 13, Davidson drained a 5-footer for par on the 18th gap to win her first skilled title, topping LPGA participant Perrine Delacour within the course of. That similar day she additionally obtained an electronic mail from the USGA stating that she’d met the group’s Gender Policy eligibility standards and may now compete in its championships. She hopes to quickly hear related information from the LPGA through a reciprocity settlement.

“I’m not just going to be stuck on mini-tours,” mentioned Davidson, who’s believed to be the primary transgendered woman to win an expert event within the U.S.

Davidson, 28, works in social media for NBC’s Peacock division underneath the Golf Channel umbrella however has desires of competing on the LPGA. In January, Davidson underwent gender reassignment surgical procedure, a six-hour process. She’s been present process hormone therapies since Sept. 24, 2015, a date that’s tattooed on her proper forearm.

“We are currently reviewing Hailey’s application to participate in LPGA Tour events under the LPGA’s gender policy,” mentioned Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s chief tour operations officer. “The policy is designed to be a private and confidential process between the LPGA and the athlete.”

In 2010, the LPGA voted to get rid of its requirement that gamers be “female at birth” not lengthy after a transgender woman filed a lawsuit in opposition to the tour.

Earlier this yr, the USGA modified its Gender Policy to shorten the size of time transgender athletes needed to wait to compete. Under the earlier coverage, a participant will need to have undergone gender reassignment surgical procedure at the least two years previous to the entry deadline.

The revised coverage eradicated the two-year interval. Gender reassignment surgical procedure should now be accomplished previous to the championship entry deadline.

The LPGA had the same two-year rule when Davidson first began wanting into its insurance policies six years in the past. She pushed to have it modified, and it too was just lately eliminated.

“To be honest, you’re really just putting up a two-year roadblock to hope that we give up by the time that two years finishes,” she mentioned. “That’s all I ever saw it as.”

Davidson obtained phrase in early February, whereas nonetheless in Baltimore recovering from surgical procedure, that she might compete in National Women’s Golf Association occasions. A tournament-hungry Davidson instantly signed up for a event scheduled two months later.

On April 20, Davidson competed in her first skilled occasion in six years. She shot 72-72 and completed tied for sixth, three pictures behind Paula Creamer and 5 pictures behind winner Megan Osland.

Davidson mentioned she’s misplaced 9 mph in swing velocity and hits it roughly 30 yards shorter off the tee since starting hormonal therapies. Her physician required that she shed extra pounds earlier than surgical procedure, roughly 60 kilos, and Davidson reached that objective after which simply saved going, dropping 90 kilos within the final 300 days. She stayed away from any weight coaching within the course of, doing no matter she might to trim muscle mass.

“Any advantage that existed is fully gone,” she insisted.

Davidson prepares for a banquet previous to the primary spherical of a faculty event whereas competing for Christopher Newport University within the spring of 2013 (courtesy photograph).

The final event Davidson competed in as a male was U.S. Open native qualifying in 2015 at Admiral’s Cove in Jupiter, the place she misplaced in a 10-for-1 playoff.

Several weeks in the past, Davidson competed in her first U.S. Women’s Open qualifier. While she had permission from the group to compete within the qualifier, she nonetheless hadn’t been cleared for a championship since extra data was nonetheless required. Davidson shot 1 underneath within the first spherical of sectional qualifying at Oceanside Country Club however struggled down the stretch, noting that she couldn’t get out of her thoughts the truth that even when she completed within the prime two, she nonetheless may not get to Olympic Club.

“No matter how good I play,” she informed herself, “it’s not up to me. Somebody else gets to decide my fate. As a male, you’re taught to go put your mind to it – you can do it.”

She in the end tied for tenth after rounds of 71-77.

Davidson, who now lives in Kissimmee, Florida, was born along with her toes backward, requiring dozens of procedures all through her childhood to appropriate. As a outcome, any sport that concerned working wasn’t an choice. Davidson mentioned she grew up an offended golfer, susceptible to breaking golf equipment. For most of her life within the recreation, Davidson did the whole lot she might to cover her reality given the conservative nature of the game.

“I did everything I could to shove it away,” she mentioned.

At the small, eight-player NWGA occasion on Thursday at Providence Golf Club, Davidson opened with a pair of bogeys within the closing spherical.

“Back when I was a male, I would’ve lost it,” she mentioned. “Probably would’ve shot 80 and my mind would’ve exploded.”

Several months in the past, Davidson started working with PGA Tour Champions participant Skip Kendall, largely on placing, and has her eyes set squarely on LPGA Q-School later this summer time.

Transgender athletes should point out to the tour their need to use for LPGA qualifying by June 25. The first stage of Q-School takes place Aug. 19-22 in California at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage (Dinah Shore and Pete Dye) and Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert. The entry price alone for Stage I is $2,500. There are three complete levels.

Davidson began a GoFundMe account to assist understand her dream of turning into the primary transgender athlete to earn LPGA membership. She has round $3,500 of her $25,000 objective.

“As cool as it would be the first person to do something,” mentioned Davidson, “to be honest, right now could not be a better time for me to hopefully keep pushing forward and maybe break out, because there is so much anti-transgender legislation. … I feel like actually having representation on any professional sports level will give kids so much more hope.

“When I was growing up that didn’t exist.”

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