Pro Golfer Lauren Miller Calls Out LPGA Rules That Prioritize “Trans” Inclusivity Over Merit

By Ashley McClure

Ever since her parents bought her a miniature set of clubs in first grade, Lauren Miller said her dream was to become a professional golfer. When that dream came true in 2023, she set her sights on qualifying for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. 

In a meritocratic system, Miller would have a fair chance of achieving that goal. But due to the LPGA’s new standards, which allow males who identify as women to compete in the ladies’ category, Miller’s dream—and the dreams of other professional female golfers—are at stake. 

After committing to Mississippi State during her sophomore year of high school, Miller went on to play both for her college and in outside tournaments for college players, amateurs, and professionals. During the summer before her senior year, Miller competed in a qualifying tournament for the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, which is the biggest women’s professional event in the world. It was at this event that Miller first encountered Hailey Davidson, a male golfer who identifies as a “transgender” woman.

“I played against Hailey at an event that I’m pretty sure was his first time playing in the women’s category,” she said. “Since this happened pre-Lia Thomas, there wasn’t much of a conversation yet around men in women’s sports, and I actually didn’t even know that Hailey was a man until after the round.” 

Miller said she had several conversations with Davidson throughout the round, and while she noticed that he was large-boned and had a deep voice, she said that the real surprise came when she saw Davidson play.

“Sometimes he would hit the ball 10 or 20 yards past me, and sometimes 50 to 60 yards past me,” she said. “It wasn’t until after the tournament, when he followed me on Instagram, that I realized who I had played against—he is very public about his transition.” 

The distances that Davidson achieved, Miller said, are usually only attainable by the best female golfers in the world. Yet Davidson was able to demonstrate that level of power at an amateur tournament. 

According to the LPGA’s regulations, males who identify as women are allowed to play in the women’s category if they have undergone wrong-sex hormone therapy and “gender-reassignment” surgery like a gonadectomy to remove their testes. 

While this standard is more strict than “transgender” inclusivity rules in other sports—which usually only require injections of wrong-sex hormones, and not surgery, to begin competing with women—a gonadectomy is still not enough to level the playing field between the sexes. 

“Distance is one advantage that men have that people often think about, but there’s a lot more to it than that,” Miller said. “They also have superior upper body strength, which gives them greater clubhead speed, and allows the ball to come out higher and with more spin.” 

Golf courses take this disparity in distance and strength into account; the average course has both a men’s tee and a ladies’ tee, which is closer to the pin. 

“If men were to play from the women’s tees, we wouldn’t stand a chance,” Miller said. But now that males who identify as women are permitted to play, that’s exactly what’s happening. 

Davidson entered the spotlight after taking first place at the NXXT Women’s Championship in January 2024, becoming the first transgender-identifying golfer to win a professional tournament. The woman he displaced on the podium was Lauren Miller. 

“I got paired with Hailey during the second round—it was the first time we had played together since 2021,” Miller said. “Hailey consistently hit the ball about 20 yards further than I did, but sometimes I was right alongside. That’s why the playoff round caught me off guard.” 

The playoff round Miller described was a head-to-head competition between her and Davidson, who were tied for first place. Miller said she was “caught off guard” because, during that last hole, her male competitor went from hitting 20 yards further than Miller to hitting 40 or 50 yards further.

“Hailey beat me on that hole, so Hailey won the tournament,” Miller said. “He even admitted that he ‘swung out of his shoes.’ My boyfriend was caddying for me, and we both just looked at each other like, ‘did you see that?’”

Davidson and Miller share the same goal of one day competing in the LPGA tour. Winning the NXXT Women’s Championship, according to Miller, puts Davidson one step closer to that goal. While there’s still a long way to go, Davidson qualifying for the most prestigious women’s golf tournament in the world is a very real possibility. 

Miller emphasized that Davidson participating in—and winning—the NXXT Women’s Championship was fully within the LPGA’s new “gender policy.” She told Independent Women’s Forum that it is the rules she takes issue with, not the golfer himself. 

“This is not a me-versus-Hailey battle,” she said. “It’s about getting people to understand that we need to do something about this. We have to protect young girls and their opportunities and their dreams.”

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