Disc golf player Natalie Ryan, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman, saw any prospects of possibly winning a California women’s tournament disappear due to an appeal of a court order, pushing the Disc Golf Pro Tour into the spotlight over the weekend.
Ryan would not have been able to play in the women’s division since the Professional Disc Golf Association changed its regulations on transgender participation back in December. According to the pro-LGBTQ+ site OutSports, she filed a discrimination case in February, alleging that the tour’s decision was motivated by “prejudice.”
Ryan was given a temporary restraining order on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley, which had allowed the trans-player to participate.
“It appears there was an intentional act, the creation of a policy, that excludes individuals based on their protected status as transgender women,” Nunley wrote in his decision. “The Court makes no determinations as to whether this is sufficient to actually establish intentional discrimination, but it raises serious questions.”
According to the PDGA rules, a transgender female who meets one of the requirements listed may compete in the women’s division.
“The player must also continuously maintain a total testosterone level in serum below 2.0 nmol/L.” The criteria includes having under 2 nmol/L for two years or having undergone a “medical transition during Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12,” whichever is later. Nunley objected to the criteria’s transitional component.
“This section appears to directly target an individual’s sex and gender by creating a temporal line when one must transition,” Nunley said. “Those who fail to comport with this timeline are forever barred from the FPO. This policy seems inextricably tied to sex and gender and, at this stage of litigation, the Court can see no way to separate them. Accordingly, the Court finds serious questions going to the merits of the intentional discrimination claim.”
The tour appealed the decision on Friday, and they were successful, even after Ryan had already finished the first round. Ryan was then eliminated from the competition all together after placing fifth for the day, according to Ultiworld.
“It appears that the district court lacks diversity jurisdiction over the [Disc Golf Pro] Tour because Plaintiff and at least one member of the Tour are citizens of Virginia,” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its decision.
“This order restores the DGPT’s ability to enforce its current policy on Gender Eligibility. The DGPT will follow the court’s ruling and enforce its Gender Eligibility Policy which will disallow Ms. Ryan from continuing competition in the OTB Open,” the Disc Golf Pro Tour continued.
Ryan pledged that there would be no backing down, in a social media post on Instagram.
“I will not be threatened, I will not be intimidated, I will not be erased. It is a breath of fresh air to be competing where I belong,” Ryan wrote. “To all the trans folks out there that love this sport as much as I do, I’m here for you, we all deserve better.”
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