Trans female disc golfer wins in Virginia after California ban

A transgender female disc golfer — banned from participation in a California event — won a woman’s tournament in Virginia.

Natalie Ryan, a biological male, won a $356 payout after defeating five other women in the Lake Marshall Open in Montross over the weekend, Fox News reported.

Ryan’s winning score of 197 over three rounds bested second-place finishers Debbie Yoo and Kaitlyn Clay, who racked up 221, according to Disc Golf Scene.

“Natalie took home another 1st place finish this weekend, right here in VA at The Lake Marshall Open. It was the perfect time for her Tour Series disc samples to arrive!” Neptune Discs said on Twitter.

“The new discs look AMAZING and her stamp really pops in the rainbow foil,” the Virginia-based company added in the post, which included photos of Ryan hold a disc.

The athlete was barred from competing in the OTB Open, an event on the Disc Golf Pro Tour in Stockton, Calif., earlier this month.

In December 2022, the Professional Disc Golf Association tightened its rules on transgender participation; Ryan filed a discrimination lawsuit in February, saying the decision was based on “prejudice,” according to OutSports.

Natalie Ryan, a transgender female disc golfer, has won an event in Virginia after being banned from competing at a Disc Golf Pro Tour event in California.
Twitter / @NeptuneDiscs

US District Judge Troy Nunley granted Ryan a temporary restraining order to allow her to play.

“It appears there was an intentional act, the creation of a policy, that excludes individuals based on their protected status as transgender women,” Nunley wrote in his decision, OutSports reported.

“The Court makes no determinations as to whether this is sufficient to actually establish intentional discrimination, but it raises serious questions,” he added.

According to PDGA rules, a trans female may play in the women’s division if they meet one of the criteria involving a medical transition and testosterone level.

The judge took exception, writing: “This section appears to directly target an individual’s sex and gender by creating a temporal line when one must transition.”

“Those who fail to comport with this timeline are forever barred from the (Female Professional Open). This policy seems inextricably tied to sex and gender and, at this stage of litigation, the Court can see no way to separate them,” he wrote.

“Accordingly, the Court finds serious questions going to the merits of the intentional discrimination claim,” the judge added.

But the tour later filed an appeal and won – and Ryan was removed after already completing the first round in fifth place.

“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 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its decision, Ultiworld Disc Golf reported.

“For Ryan’s case to be heard in a federal court, one requirement is that the plaintiff (Ryan), who is a citizen of Virginia, must be totally ‘diverse’ (i.e., from a different state) than the defendants,” the site explained.

The Disc Golf Pro Tour said in a statement: “This order restores the DGPT’s ability to enforce its current policy on Gender Eligibility.

“The DGPT will follow the court’s ruling and enforce its Gender Eligibility Policy which will disallow Ms. Ryan from continuing competition in the OTB Open,” it said.

Ryan wrote on Instagram: “I will not be threatened, I will not be intimidated, I will not be erased. It is a breath of fresh air to be competing where I belong.

“To all the trans folks out there that love this sport as much as I do, I’m here for you, we all deserve better,” the athlete said.