Despite being an out transgender person and a well-known athlete herself, former Republican California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner has taken a hard stance against transgender girls and women participating in sports as their gender identity.
But apparently, there’s a big exception for Jenner: golf.
Jenner was on Fox News last night and she defended Hailey Davidson, who may become the first trans woman to compete in the women’s pro-golf LPGA Tour. It’s something of a surprise considering Jenner’s past statements on trans women athletes.
“I’ve been very consistent with how I’ve tried to approach this, transgender athletes,” Jenner insisted. “It really depends on the sport. Every sport is different.”
“Obviously, we saw with Lia Thomas, she had gone through male puberty, bigger cardiovascular system, it just wasn’t fair,” she said, referring to the University of Pennsylvania swimmer.
“Golf is a totally different game. It is a game of touch and feel. It is about your ability around the green, to get the ball out of the bunker.”
“She’s playing within the rules,” she said. “Golf is [a] totally different game. It is a game of touch and feel.”
Thomas followed NCAA rules for transgender athletes.
There’s another difference between swimming and golf: Jenner likes to participate in women’s golf tournaments herself. She played in the 2016 women’s Pro-Am ANA Inspiration golf tournament at the Mission Hills Country Club, and her participation in women’s golf events was enough that even O.J. Simpson noticed, saying it “bothered my senses that she would be playing on the ladies tees.”
Jenner likes golf so much that she even used golf as an excuse for not voting in the 2020 presidential election, saying that she was too busy golfing to be bothered with voting (county records later showed that she actually did vote in the election).
But during her campaign, she took a harsher stance against transgender student-athletes. In fact, it was the very first issue she took a firm stance on when she ran for governor of California, saying in May 2021, “I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.”
“I don’t think biological boys should compete in women’s sports — we have to protect women’s sports…. That’s the bottom line,” she said nearly a year later while talking about Thomas. “I don’t see how you can be happy beating other girls under these circumstances. You have to have a sense of personal responsibility. You can still enjoy sports but not play at a competitive level, right?”
While Jenner on Fox News yesterday said that golf is different from swimming in that trans women don’t have an advantage on cis women there, she wasn’t saying the same thing earlier this year.
“Here’s an example: I play golf and, seven years after my transition, I still have a big advantage over women players,” she told The Daily Mail in March 2022. “I’m six foot, one inch. I have longer arms than the ladies and I can outdrive them by a hundred yards. Even being off testosterone and on estrogen for seven years now, what I’ve got left over is still more than they’ve ever had. So, it wouldn’t be fair.
It’s hard to understand why just several months ago Jenner was saying that trans women have “a big advantage” over cis women in golf but now changed her mind completely, saying that the sport is “touch and feel” and trans women have no advantage.
The answer might be that Jenner doesn’t think that Davidson has a chance of winning and she believes that trans women can only participate in sports if they lose.
“Honestly, for me, the jury is still out on this one,” Jenner told Fox News yesterday. “I don’t think she’s gonna be in a position where she’s gonna be dominating on the LPGA tour. To be honest with you, those girls are so good.”
Which is an attitude that Davidson said frustrates her.
“If I play bad, then people will feel justified, ‘Oh well, she played bad and wasn’t good enough,’” she told Golfweek. “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.”