By: Hailey Davidson, Athlete Ally Ambassador
My name is Hailey Davidson and I am the world’s first transgender woman to win a professional golf tournament, which I have now done multiple times. I have been transitioning since 2015, but have only recently become eligible to compete through the USGA and LPGA Tour, which are the main governing bodies of women’s professional golf.
I am originally from Scotland, which is the home of golf, so you can say it has always been in my blood ever since I was a child. I was born with my feet backwards, and in the first few years of my life had 34 procedures to slowly turn them back around. As a result, sports that involved running were generally out of the picture for me. At the age of 14, I had started to really advance to where I was dreaming of playing professionally one day. At the same time, I started to have my true self start to shine through and it truly terrified me. I did all I could to hide this part of me and I used golf to do so. It was all I ever did and thought about because the more I practiced and better I became, the further down the thoughts of who I truly was would go.
This went on for a few years until I reached college golf. Being away from home and at a smaller school in Delaware, I had far too much time to myself which I mostly spent in my thoughts. Who I really was would start to creep back up, and so did depression because I was not in the most welcoming environment. I ended up transferring to a Division 3 school in Newport News, Virginia, thinking that a change of scenery would help to “fix” things. Needless to say, this was not the case and it only got worse. Fast forward a year and I transferred one last time but to where I could do the rest of my schooling online to really figure out what was going on, as I had come to a very dark place in life.
While I was finishing school online at Arizona State University, I moved with my parents down to the West Palm Beach area, thinking that I could get a fresh start and just be myself from the start since no one knew me. This did not go as planned and I hid who I was again for another 1 month until it got to be too much. I had tried playing golf professionally as male prior to coming out, but I was such a headcase it was not only affecting me but the other players around me.
I was at a crossroads at this point since I thought I had to choose between playing golf for a living and hiding who I was forever, or finally be happy as my authentic self and potentially never play golf again. I am very happy that I chose the latter of the two and came out, and it was truly the life-saving moment I needed. While I did not play nor touch a club at all for over 2 years due to all that came with coming out of the closet, I was finally able to get back into playing when I was lucky to land a job at GolfNow. This got me back into playing for fun, and for once I was playing without anger or this mental time bomb waiting to explode. This started to really show in my scores, and I was back to where I had dreams of playing again.
Fast forward to post-gender reassignment surgery. At this point, after 5 years of conversations with the LPGA tour, I knew I had met every requirement that was placed in front of me by the governing bodies in golf and was so lucky to receive the green light to compete.
Being the first in the world to do something has been such a great experience and with that, I want to do all I can to make sure that future athletes can finally see representation in sports and know that it really is possible. While I am playing for myself and to hopefully have a great career, I want to make sure that any platform I am given is used correctly to better the community. Any achievement I have is only because of the love and support the LGBTQ+ community has shown me since the beginning, and I want to make sure I leave this earth in a better place than it ever was. I’m excited to join Athlete Ally as an Ambassador to help make sports more equal and supportive for everyone.
Photos courtesy of Hailey Davidson
Want to receive stories like this in your inbox? Sign up here.