March 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 81  

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First transsexual pro golfer

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Mianne Bagger, believed to be the first known transsexual to take part in a professional women’s golf tournament, says being born male isn’t an advantage against female rivals.

Bagger, 37, was born a male and had a sex change operation in 1995. She will tee off at the Australian Women’s Open starting Thursday at the Concord Golf Club in a field with such stars as Karrie Webb and Laura Davies.

Bagger says existing rules of the Ladies Professional Golf Association in the United States and the Ladies European Tour that prevent transsexuals from competing in women’s events need to be changed.

“I want to play professional golf and have the same opportunities as other women,” Bagger said Tuesday. “It’s my dream to play top-level golf.”

While Bagger is thought to be the first transsexual to play in a pro event, a transsexual golfer named Charlotte Wood competed in two USGA national championships in 1987 — the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur and the inaugural U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.

Bagger said she’s had no negative reaction from her rivals this week. She also said the combined result of hormone therapy and her surgery means she produces less testosterone than the average woman.

“She’s a girl now, let her have a go, good luck to her,” Davies told the Australian Associated Press. “She’s not gaining any advantage from what I understand — why not give her a chance.”

“People aren’t aware of what’s involved with transsexualism and the physiological changes you go through with hormone replacement therapy — we lose an amount of muscle mass and overall strength as a result,” Bagger said. “After surgery those effects are permanent and irreversible.”

Bagger claims not to be any stronger than most female rivals and doesn’t hit the ball as long as top women professionals.

“I’m just hitting 200-metre drives and other girls are hitting it past me,” Bagger told reporters. “I’m trying my best out there and people are surprised that I’m not hitting it further.”



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