Transgender and sports: graying the line


The new debate: can transsexuals – people who change their sex and gender from their origin at birth – be allowed to play on the team of their newly designated gender?

Fallon Fox, a male-to-female transexual, recently came out as the first ever transsexual person to be a Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) member. Fox underwent hormone therapy and a sex reassignment surgery in 2007, making her fully and legally a female in all accounts. However, when her transsexuality became a matter of public knowledge, Fox’s boxing license as a female fighter came into question.

Many sports associations have had to recognize and respond to this issue. In 2004, a transgender policy was announced, The Stockholm Consensus, which allowed transsexual athletes to complete in the Olympics was approved by The International Olympic Committee. In 2011, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) followed their lead and passed similar policy.

Today, Bobbi Lancaster, a woman formally known as Robert Lancaster, a man, is pursuing her dream to play in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), as a female competitor. And the LPGA is supporting her.

It was until mid-life that Lancaster had the realization that he was actually a she. Lancaster’s wife, Lucy, found a briefcase of sealed envelopes which contained suicide notes from her husband, one addressed to her.

Lancaster,  a lifelong family doctor had been spiraling downward into a depression and hadn’t mustered enough energy to get out of bed the morning that Lucy confronted him. He melted, and told her everything. His deepest secret: he felt that, intrinsically, he was a woman and wanted his body to match his mind.

Lucy, completely baffled and totally unaware of her husband’s deep desire had temptations to run, but didn’t. She stuck with her spouse and supported Lancaster through his long and complicated transition.

Finally a woman—mind, body and spirit, Lancaster decided to pursue his lifelong dream to compete in the LPGA. In 2010, the LPGA voted to allow transsexuals to be admitted in the tournament and the LPGA re-wrote it’s rulebook to remove the “female at birth” requirement. Assuming she qualifies for the tour, the Arizona resident, Bobbi Lancaster’s dream will be met and she will be allowed to play in the LPGA.


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