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30 LGBTQ athletes who showed ‘Stonewall Spirit’: Mianne Bagger

Stonewall Spiriti: Mianne Bagger was the first trans woman to play in a pro golf tournament. She did not win.

Mianne Bagger
Getty Images/AP Photo/Rick Rycroft Composite by Haley Videckis

In commemoration of Pride Month and the 50th year since the Stonewall Inn riots in New York, Outsports is profiling one out athlete daily who embodies the “Stonewall Spirit,” reflecting the courage of those who launched the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

With so much attention today on transgender women in sports, we will forgive you for not knowing the name Mianne Bagger.

With Bagger that’s part of the point. In 2004 she competed in the Australian Women’s Open, becoming the first transgender woman to compete in a professional golf tournament that we know of. She did not win that tournament. She never won that tournament.

In fact, while she had a number of top-10 finishes, she never outright won a professional tournament despite a handful of people at the time concerned about her perceived “unfair” advantage being a trans athlete.

Bagger was good at golf. She was great. Don’t get us wrong. She was a stellar golfer. Yet with all the conversation today about the “unfair” advantages of trans women in sports... Bagger had to work hard at every stroke to reach and stay in women’s pro golf.

From her very early days as a trans woman in women’s golf, Bagger felt welcomed by “the other girls.” It was actually those cis women who invited her back into the game that had given her so much joy before transitioning.

“Everyone knew about my past,” Bagger told Outsports. “And someone asked me to be part of a local team with the girls. I was baffled and hesitant, but everyone seemed to be comfortable with it.”

When Bagger took to the course she found her driving distance had diminished, among other elements of her game that had suffered due to transitioning genders.

“I realized there is no difference here whatsoever. I realized I was an average player. I had to start working really hard if I wanted to compete at a high level. My game was hugely impacted.”

The “five to six years” of hormone therapy had changed her body. Her strength. Her ability.

She eventually made it to the Ladies European Tour, never finishing in the Top 20.

Her willingness to return to the game she loved, and to return to the game as her true self, helped open minds and hearts. Her participation helped lead to changes in policies in various women’s golf leagues for transgender athletes.

Our “Stonewall Spirit” series continues tomorrow and every day during Pride.

We will have more from Mianne Bagger, her story, and her perspectives on trans athletes in women’s sports, this summer as part of our ongoing series about trans inclusion in women’s sports.

Our “Stonewall Spirit” series continues tomorrow and every day during Pride.