Transgender golfer Hailey Davidson banned from NXXT after Florida-based mini-tour changes gender policy

Transgender golfer Hailey Davidson’s playing options just got significantly smaller. NXXT Golf announced on Friday that, effective immediately, competitors must be a biological female at birth to participate. A statement from the tour notes that it underscores the organization’s commitment to
“maintaining the integrity of women’s professional golf and ensuring fair competition.” The news comes on International Women’s Day.

“As we navigate through the evolving landscape of sports, it is crucial to uphold the competitive integrity that is the cornerstone of women’s sports,” said NXXT Golf CEO Stuart McKinnon in a statement.

“Our revised policy is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to celebrating and protecting the achievements and opportunities of female athletes. Protected categories are a fundamental aspect of sports at all levels, and it is essential for our Tour to uphold these categories for biological females, ensuring a level playing field.”

Davidson, a three-time winner on the tour, currently ranks second on the mini tour’s season standings. She has played nine times this season on the NXXT.

The NXXT is the second U.S. mini-tour to make such a change. Last month, the Arizona-based Cactus Tour announced on National Girls and Women in Sports Day that it had reinstated a female-at-birth requirement.

A number of LPGA players have used the mini-tour over the years to kick off rust and develop their games as amateurs and young pros. Past winners include three-time major winner Anna Nordqvist, 2023 U.S. Women’s Open champ Allisen Corpuz, Grace Kim, Mina Harigae, Gabriela Ruffels and Cheyenne Woods.

Bobbi Lancaster, a retired physician who became the first transgender player to compete in LPGA Q-School, once spent time competing on the Cactus Tour. Lancaster recently told Golfweek that her views on allowing trans women to compete in elite women’s sports have changed.

Davidson’s victory on the NXXT in January got national attention after many believed her performance put her on the doorstep of the LPGA. The NXXT has a new partnership this season with the Epson Tour, the developmental feeder tour for the LPGA. The top five earners on the NXXT points list will earn two exemptions into Epson Tour fields.

The fine print, however, details that for players to receive those Epson Tour exemptions, the NXXT must have a minimum of 10 events with an average of 40 players, and fields were falling well short of that number.

In the wake of the Davidson controversy, the NXXT initiated an anonymous poll among its players to gather their opinions on the tour’s gender policy, the results of which had not been made public.

The tour also requested that Davidson undergo additional testosterone testing to ensure compliance.

Davidson earned a scholarship to play on the men’s team at Wilmington University, an NCAA Division II school in Delaware, before transferring to the men’s team at Christopher Newport, an NCAA Division III school in Virginia.

On Sept. 24, 2015 – a date that’s tattooed on her right forearm – Davidson began undergoing hormone treatments, and in January 2021 underwent gender reassignment surgery, a six-hour procedure that’s required under the LPGA’s Gender Policy.

Three years ago, Davidson became the second transgender player to compete in LPGA Q-School and did not make the cut. She tried again in 2022, missing the 54-hole cut by a single stroke.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek