Athlete Ally Responds to Professional Disc Golf Association’s New Transgender Participation Policy

December 14, 2022 — Athlete Ally responded today to news that the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) released a new policy requiring severe restrictions on transgender women’s participation in the sport.

Effective January 1, 2023, the policy requires the following:

  • “For PDGA Amateur Majors, Pro Master Majors and all other PDGA events sanctioned at A-Tier level and below the requirements regarding a player’s level of testosterone have been lowered from under 10 nmol/L for one year to under 2 nmol/L for two years.
  • Players are only eligible to compete in the gender-based FPO division at PDGA Pro Majors (Champions Cup, USWDGC, European Open, and Pro Worlds) if they began medical transition during Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later. The player must also continuously maintain a total testosterone level in serum below 2.0 nmol/L.” 

“We are deeply troubled by the PDGA’s decision to use an opportunity to build an inclusive and welcoming environment for all athletes to instead directly target transgender women,” said Dr. Anna Baeth, Athlete Ally’s Director of Research. “This policy goes against all conclusive research which finds that testosterone does not equate to athletic ability, and counters inclusive policies at the highest level of sport, like the 2021 International Olympic Committee Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations, which centers the fact that transgender athletes have no inherent advantage in sport. 

The PDGA’s medical review falls woefully short of looking critically at current, available research; instead, it relies heavily on research focused on cisgender men and on inaccurate and misleading studies. For example, the medical committee cites work by Abigail Shrier, an  anti-transgender activist known for spreading hate-speech. It also cites a study conducted by Hilton and Lundberg which has been dismantled by an in-depth literature review done by E*Alliance, who refer to the piece as “… an argumentative essay in the form of original scientific research.” 

Perhaps most concerning is the impact this policy will have on all women: we know that testosterone levels in cisgender women vary, and overlap with levels of cisgender men. There is no way to implement this policy without policing the bodies of all women. Again and again, we have seen sport used as a space to culturally, medically, and visually police women’s bodies – the PDGA just named themselves as yet another governing body not only ready but willing to do so.” 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash