The Professional Disc Golf Association announced Monday that it would enact policy to restrict the participation of transgender women in the women’s division in the sport effective January 1.
The policy will allow trans women to compete in top professional women’s division if one of the three following criteria are met:
- Hormone replacement therapy continuously for at least 24 months prior to competition with a blood serum testosterone level less that 2 nanomoles/liter in that period. Any suspension of treatment with disallow the competitor with the time resetting when treatment restarts.
- Gender-affirming surgery along with documentation showing a blood serum testosterone level less that 2 nanomoles/liter for 24 month prior to competition
- Starting medical transition such as puberty blockers prior to age 12 or before Tanner Stage 2 whichever come last.
The policy would also have separate eligibility standards for PDGA Majors and Elite Series tour events. Participation in the Female Professional Open division at PDGA Majors would be restricted only to transgender women who are eligible under the criterion that mandates start of transition prior to puberty. In any other tournament, only the mandate on testosterone levels would apply.
The statement notes the PDGA came to their decision after more than a year of consultation with the governing body’s Medical Subcommittee, who put forth a report on current research on trans athletes in 2021.
They also considered the results of a survey of PDGA members conducted last summer, in which a majority of members expressed disagreement with trans women competing in the women’s category.
Also taking into consideration was feedback from cisgender and transgender women who are touring professionals, study of the policies from other governing bodies and additional academic and medical research on transgender women in sports.
The statement ended with a call to inclusion, even after the changes go into effect.
“While a majority of the PDGA Global Board of Directors has voted to move forward with new policy, that does not diminish our desire to be an inclusive sport we encourage all of our members to treat members of the transgender community with love and respect, in keeping with our frisbee culture,” the statement read. “Transgender women should be free to live their lives as they see fit without fear of being attacked for who they are.”
Reaction from players and fans of the sport were mixed across social media. Some called the new regulations fair while others saw the new policy as discriminatory.
Top touring pro Natalie Ryan, a trans woman with two tournament FPO wins in the Pro Disc Golf Tour Elite Series in 2022, responded with ire via Instagram saying the policy change was aimed directly at her.
“This change was never about fairness,” Ryan posted. “This is about my success and their aversion to it.
Ryan has been maligned by anti-trans media sources and groups calling to keep transgender women out of women’s sports since her wins this season. In her post, Ryan also called on supportive PDGA members to participate in the governing body’s leadership elections in 2023.
“We can elect more forward-thinking and progressive people. We can push bigotry out of our sport,” she stated. “The PDGA board chose to shrink our sport, so it is our turn to grow past their hatred and truly make this sport welcoming to everyone.”
Kelly Jenkins, the PDGA’s first out transgender player, said the policy left her frustrated and confused.
“The policy is very convoluted and in my opinion is designed to intentionally create more barriers to transgender women competing in the female division,” Jenkins told Outsports. “The fact that I had to discuss my genitals with them in 2014 to play in the female division was bad enough. Now I have to go through a whole new set of gatekeeping directives to compete?
“It feels like the medical committee and the PDGA in general did not follow any sort of best practices while creating this horrific policy. The fact that the medical committee doesn’t understand that in some states trans youth can’t get gender-affirming care by law, means that where you are born will determine whether or not you can play in the female divisions. It just shows their ignorance on trans issues. Shame on you PDGA.”