A transgender-identifying disc golfer won a women’s event in North Carolina after being pulled from a competition in California.
Natalie Ryan, who identifies as a transgender woman, won the Lake Marshall Open in Montross, Virginia after defeating five women. Ryan was awarded $356 for the first-place finish.
Ryan score 197 points while Debbie Yoo and Kaitlyn Clay, who tied for second place, scored 221. The top five finishers for the Mixed Pro Open competition – all men – scored between 189 and 198.
Ryan was prohibited from participating in the Disc Golf Pro Tour due to a legal battle over the Professional Disc Golf Association’s policy regarding gender.
Ryan had sued the PDGA in February, alleging discrimination. The organization had changed its policies and only permitted “transgender women to have had a medical transition during Tanner Stage Two or before turning 12 and also a low testosterone level,” per The Daily Mail.
US District Judge Troy L. Nunley ruled on May 11 that the policy “was an intentional act, the creation of a policy, that excludes individuals based on their protected status as transgender women” and granted a temporary restraining order that made Ryan eligible.
Although Ryan did compete in the first round of the OTB Open in Stockton, the Ninth Court of Appeals sided with the PDGA’s appeal and permitted the organization to bar Ryan from that event.
“It appears that the district court lacks diversity jurisdiction over the [Disc Golf Pro] Tour because Plaintiff and at least one member of the Tour are citizens of Virginia,” the appeals court stated in its ruling, per UltiWorld Disc Golf.
Ryan may choose to refile the case in California or in another state.
“My removal from the OTB was targeted just as the new policy was,” Ryan wrote on Instagram on May 14. “The [Disc Golf Pro Tour] is now enforcing rules that it has no place to.”
“They have only done this to hurt me. I will continue to litigate until justice is achieved,” Ryan continued. “I will use this pain to make sure nobody else has to experience it.”
Ryan began competing in women’s disc golf competitions as an amateur at least four years ago. Ryan won three amateur competitions in March and April of 2019 before going pro in June of 2019. Since then, Ryan has won 22 professional women’s disc golf tournaments and has won just over $2,950 at six Pro Opens.
“I am not the only new touring player who has found success as part of a newer generation of FPO disc golfers with a more well rounded game,” Ryan wrote on Instagram on Dec. 16. “Attributing this success only to the fact that I’m transgender ignores the hard work I have put in to gain competency in every shot shape and angle but it also ignores the fact that others have done so too.”
“My most active detractors have been complacent and haven’t improved their games in years,” added Ryan. “They only started due to the evolution of FPO that now requires it to win.”
Ryan is sponsored by Nepture Discs, which celebrated the disc golfer’s win by promoting a rainbow disc on Twitter.