Disc golf association roles back trans participation guidelines following lawsuit settlement

Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) has revised its stance on transgender women’s eligibility, particularly in the Female Professional Open (FPO) category at Elite Series events and Majors. The policy change, set to take effect on January 1, 2024, signifies a significant shift in inclusivity within the sport.

The PDGA’s prior rule, which restricted transgender women from participating in FPO unless they underwent gender transition before puberty, has been dropped as part of a settlement with Natalie Ryan. This change ensures that transgender women, like Ryan, who have completed at least two years of hormone therapy, are immediately eligible to compete in FPO at all PDGA events.

 

The decision comes amid legal battles between Natalie Ryan and the PDGA, with the organization facing substantial legal expenses and potential liabilities. As part of the settlement, Ryan has withdrawn her lawsuits in California and Minnesota, signaling a resolution to her satisfaction. While specific terms of the settlement remain undisclosed, Ryan’s lawyer, Brian Sciacca, expressed optimism for her future involvement in the sport without the weight of litigation.

Natalie Ryan, already signed up for a 2024 Tour Card, shared her excitement on Instagram, declaring a victory for trans women’s equality in elite-level disc golf. She expressed hope for the sport to foster an environment that genuinely welcomes and celebrates everyone.

In response to the settlement, the PDGA acknowledged the financial and logistical challenges posed by multi-state litigation and opted to end the year with a net operating loss. The organization cited the evolving legal landscape on transgender issues, emphasizing their commitment to adapting to changes in laws and regulations.

 

While the PDGA still upholds certain restrictions, such as a testosterone limit and a two-year hormone replacement requirement for transgender women in female-only divisions, they have abandoned the contentious pre-puberty transition rule. The Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT), while initially reluctant to alter its policy, defers to the PDGA’s regulatory authority and acknowledges the impracticality of adjudicating the matter on a national or international scale currently.

Both the PDGA and DGPT commit to continuous evaluation of local, state, and federal laws, along with guidance from the International Olympic Committee, as they plan for competition rules in 2026 and beyond. The modifications highlight the sport’s evolving landscape and its commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming community for all participants.