Caitlyn Jenner shared a lengthy, detailed statement of support for transgender golfer Hailey Davidson in an interview on Fox News’ America Reports. In the conversation she effectively discussed the current LPGA policy, why handling each sports’ trans-inclusion policy should be different and how golf itself is designed to limit the impacts of strength and speed.
“Are the rules sound? I would say yes,” Jenner said in talking with John Roberts. “The LPGA is a different sport. I’ve been very consistent with how I’ve tried to approach transgender athletes. It really depends on the sport. Every sport is different.”
She then explained how, in her eyes, Lia Thomas’ participation in the female category in NCAA swimming — which centers things like strength, speed and lung capacity — was different. Caitlyn felt that “just wasn’t fair” in a sport like swimming, she said.
“Golf is a totally different game,” she said. “It is a game of touch and feel. It is about your ability around the green, to get the ball close, out of the bunker, your ability to putt.”
Jenner is a longtime golfer herself and a golf enthusiast. She has previously discussed many times her skepticism of trans women competing in the female category, which makes her support of Davidson that much more noteworthy.
The timing of the interview was particularly noteworthy as just moments before I had read a tweet to me from Olympian Nancy Hogshead-Makar — who opposes Davidson’s participation — telling me to listen to what Jenner has to say about the topic.
For her part, Davidson herself released a lengthy statement on Instagram, talking about her understanding about the debate but also how this conversation has gone beyond that into unfettered hatred. She also reflected many of the same points Jenner made on Fox News.
“All the people who commented about me having an advantage over biologically born women have no idea how great these women are at their craft or what it takes to be an elite golfer,” she wrote.
Davidson’s mother has gotten into the conversation, essentially telling everyone who isn’t transgender or isn’t the mother of a trans person to get out of the conversation. This thinking is highly problematic to me, as people of all walks of life can listen and learn and come to thoughtful conclusions.
Still, Jenner supports Davidson’s comments, which were targeted at tennis coach Judy Murray for saying Davidson’s participation in women’s golf is unfair.
“I’m on Hailey’s mom’s side,” Jenner said. “They don’t know what it’s like to transition, how difficult it is. The mothers do know.”
Jenner did at the end offer some rightful acknowledgement that, frankly, we don’t know everything here, that she wants to “let it play out,” and that she doesn’t know if Davidson is “going to be able to make it on the LPGA Tour.”
Lost in the chatter so many people outside of golf are having about Davidson is the fact that it was LPGA members themselves who voted in 2010 to remove the “female at birth” requirement to compete. The actual competitors themselves have agreed with Jenner.
Interestingly, in the sport of swimming, it seems athletes there would also agree with Jenner that the sport requires higher barriers to entry or outright bans, as FINA has done.