“Courage is Contagious,” Says LPGA Pro Amy Olson, Denouncing Unjust “Transgender” Policies in Golf

By Andrea Mew

“I treated this like a job at nine years old,” Amy Olson said, reflecting on her journey from golfing as a child to becoming a pro athlete with the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). “I trained, I performed, I lifted weights, I’ve done everything to maximize the potential of my body to reach the elite level of sport.”

The North Dakota native—who made headlines last year for playing in the U.S. Women’s Open while seven months pregnant—has earned many accolades over the years. She holds the NCAA record with 20 collegiate wins during her four-year career at North Dakota State University and has competed on the LPGA tour for 10 years.

Professionals who have dedicated their lives to their sport, like Olson, are having their ability to continue earning accolades threatened by so-called inclusive gender policies. In women’s golf, this has become a topic of national discussion due to the LPGA’s rules that allow male golfers to compete in the women’s category if they undergo wrong-sex hormone treatment and “gender-reassignment surgery.”

In an exclusive interview with IWF, Olson said she’s pushing back against these policies, which compromise the integrity of competition by creating an unequal playing field for women.

She clarified that, while the LPGA’s policies for athletes identifying as transgender were actually updated back in 2010, it wasn’t until recently that more men began identifying as transgender and entering women’s golf competitions.

The issue recently gained national attention when female competitors were outperformed on ladies’ tours multiple times by Hailey Davidson, a male golfer identifying as a transgender woman. Specifically, Davidson won the NXXT Women’s Classic in January 2024 displacing Lauren Miller, the woman in second place.

On International Women’s Day (March 8, 2024), however, NXXT announced that it was reversing its eligibility criteria to only allow biological females to compete in the ladies’ division.

Davidson started wrong-sex hormone treatment in 2015 and received “gender-reassignment surgery” in 2021. By then, the now-30-year-old had already benefited from two decades of standard male development, yet the golfer still claimed to have no physiological advantages over female competitors.

As it stands, Olson explained that golf typically segments competitors into an open division and a women’s division. The open division is understood to be for the men’s tournaments, but Olson said if she wanted to, she could sign up, play their tees, and compete against the men.

“It’s very difficult to have a lot of success,” she said, noting that she had tried playing in the open category for three local tournaments prior to going pro. At that time, Olson had just won an international girl’s championship and was one of the top NCAA collegiate players.

Ultimately, Olson made it to the semi-finals in one tournament, placed second in another, and placed fourth in the final tournament, but she never took the top title.

“Whereas on the men’s side, even though it was very impressive to make it to those finishes and it made huge headlines locally, it’s still just local men versus competing with an international elite female.”

Olson explained that, while she’s not trying to discount the work and effort that transgender-identifying competitors put into golf, it’s unfair for them to compete against women.

“It is condescending when male athletes point to the even playing field which is achieved by them undergoing treatments to remove their competitive advantage,” she said, “while women work tirelessly to maximize their competitive advantage.”

If women aren’t able to compete fairly in golf, Olson predicts many will drop out and not compete. The thought of this was concerning to Olson, because in her own experience, she said that having female-only sports was “absolutely foundational” in developing important leadership abilities and character qualities.

From Olson’s perspective, women’s sport is “so much bigger” than who ends up with a trophy at the end of the event.

“There’s an entire culture around it,” she explained, “ and there’s character that’s developed in the process of pursuing sport.”

“I’m worried about that experience being removed for future generations, including my daughter,” Olson said.

If society continues down this path, she believes we will lose girls’ and women’s sports entirely. But for Olson, this fight isn’t just about future female athletes like her own daughter, Carly Gray, being able to play in sex-specific categories—she cited several additional reasons why she chose to speak out on this politically-charged topic.

“I also want her [Carly Gray] to be physically safe in a locker room where she is undressing and preparing for competitions,” she said. “I don’t want her to have to cover herself as a male walks by in one of those private spaces.”

As a professional athlete and now as a mother, Olson is navigating new responsibilities as a role model.

“I want her [Carly Gray] to see me fight, stand up, and be courageous for what is right regardless of the ramifications, regardless of what society is saying is right and wrong,” Olson said. “I want her to know that there’s a right and wrong above public opinion, and to fight for that is always a good thing.”

Ultimately, by breaking her silence, Olson hopes others will feel emboldened to stand up for the well-being of women and girls. If society rejects objective truths about sex differences, she said that the Ladies Professional Golf Association might as well rename itself accordingly.

“We should be the Low Testosterone Golf Association, the LTGA,” Olson said. “I know that sounds facetious, but actually the more I’ve said it, the more I actually believe that that is true. I’m more concerned with us being honest about what we are than anything else, because I don’t want to live in a world where we all have to lie.”

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