Golfer Hailey Davidson is seeking to become the first transgender woman to earn a Ladies Professional Golf Association tour card, after playing two strong rounds at the LPGA Qualifying School in Palm Springs.
Davidson, who was born in Scotland but now lives in Florida, shot a 70 in the first round on Thursday, followed by a 76 the following day.
According to current LPGA rules, any player who shoots under 88 all three rounds will earn a 2023 Epson Tour Status, which is the official qualifying tour for the association.
The top 100 players of the qualifying rounds will move to Stage II in October.
Last year, Davidson became the second transgender woman to play in the first stage of LPGA Qualifying School, following Bobbi Lancaster who attempted the same feat in 2013.
Davidson had won a scholarship to play on a men’s team at Wilmington University in Delaware, but later transferred to a men’s team at Christopher Newport University in Virginia before she underwent her transition from male to female.
In 2015, Davidson underwent hormone treatments in a gender reassignment surgery in a six-hour procedure required under the LPGA’s gender policy. The association removed its “female at birth” requirement back in 2010.
Davidson expressed frustration about controversy about her transgender identity overshadowing her performance in an interview she gave to Golfweek.
“If I play bad, then people will feel justified — ‘Oh well, she played bad and wasn’t good enough.’ — If I do anything good, it won’t be because of the fact that I put my whole life into this. It would be because I’m trans,” Davidson said.
Transgender inclusivity in sports, particularly biological men competing in women’s sports, has become a controversial issue in recent years.
Several GOP-led states have passed a series of measures targeting transgender individuals, including putting restrictions on participating in women’s sports.
Meanwhile, Democrats have attacked such laws as transphobic and the Biden administration has sought to loosen Trump-era rules around transgender individuals and strengthen protections for the LGBT community.