February 23, 2024

The PDGA Secures Gender Protected Divisions in Gender-Eligibility Policy

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After months of waiting and hours of debate, the PDGA Board of Directors has ratified the gender-eligibility policy for the 2023 season forward. In 2023 transgender women will not be allowed to participate in the FPO division at Pro Majors. At the same time, the Disc Golf Pro Tour said it is adopting the PDGA guidelines for Elite and Silver events for the 2023 season. nn

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The New Gender-Eligibility Policy

nIn the new PDGA gender-eligibility policy, transgender women are allowed to compete in PDGA Pro Majors only under extremely specific criteria. “[I]f they began medical transition during Tanner Stage 2 [earliest stage of puberty] or before age 12, whichever is later,” then the transgender woman is allowed to participate in the FPO division. This requires transgender women to start taking testosterone suppressants before going through puberty as a male. This is parallel to the international swimming association, FINA, from the summer. nnThis will prevent the two most prominent transgender women, Natalie Ryan and Chloe Alice, from participating in the gender protected FPO division. To remain on tour, they will have to compete in the mixed pro open, MPO, division. To avoid criticism, the Disc Golf Network shut down the comment section on the livestreams specifically when Ryan was on lead card. n

Natalie Ryan’s Response

nRyan replied to the news in an Instagram post. She said, “I’m incredibly saddened and hurt by this announcement. I did everything I could to speak on behalf of inclusion, but the PDGA Board of Directors had a decision made before I ever set foot in that room. …this change was never about fairness. …This is about my success and their aversion to it. …The PDGA Board chose to shrink the sport….”n

CliffNotes Version of the Gender-Eligibility Policy

nThe PDGA Board reviewed all material provided by the medical subcommittee including peer-revied articles and opinion pieces. These sources indicated that transgender women have an unfair advantage with strength, even on hormone therapy, and should not be allowed to compete in the FPO division. The PDGA’s gender-eligibility policy has some of the strictest guidelines of any policy to date. Transgender women need to maintain a testosterone level of <2nmol/L for at least 24 months. For context, the world triathlon, cycling federation, and swimming federation require transgender women to maintain a level of <2.5nmol/L over the same period. according to the University of Rochester Medical Center normal rand for a woman is <2.43nmol/L (70ng/dL).n

PDGA Statement

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n The decision to change eligibility criteria at our events was not made lightly. The PDGA Global Board of Directors worked tirelessly over the last ten months to study this issue and debated and discussed this topic for 11.5 hours on the second day of the Fall Summit. After carefully reviewing ten different proposals, the PDGA Global Board of Directors voted to update the eligibility criteria for gender-based divisions. The PDGA Global Board of Directors cares deeply about the culture and history of the sport of disc golf. From the beginning, disc golf has strived to be an inclusive sport that welcomes people from all walks of life. The PDGA Global Board of Directors values fairness and inclusion and will continue to evaluate and update this policy as additional science and data become available, and as additional sporting organizations around the world continue to look closely at this issue.nn

nThe policy change is in part a result of the International Olympic Committee guidance that requires individual sports associations determine their own guidelines for transgender participation in their sport. Each sport has created different rules based on the athletic requirements of the activity. nnNatalie Ryan has started a legal fund, “to fight the anti-trans PDGA Policy.” In a comment Ryan said that all funds, “will be used for legal fees exclusively.” At the time of writing the fund had raised $4,178. nnThis change takes effect January 1, 2023. nn

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