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Trailblazing trans female golfer says 'there has to be a division' in elite sports

SportTrailblazing trans female golfer says 'there has to be a division' in elite sports


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Mianne Bagger, a transgender female golfer from Denmark who made history when she competed in the Women’s Australian Open in 2004, disagreed with the notion trans women should be allowed to compete against biological women.

Bagger, 55, started hormone replacement therapy in 1992 and had sex reassignment surgery in 1995. She began to compete against amateur golfers in the late 1990s and won the 1999 South Australian State Amateur tournament.

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Mianne Bagger of Denmark lines up a putt during the second round of the 2007 ANZ Ladies Masters at the Royal Pines East Course on Feb. 9, 2007 at the Gold Coast, Australia.

Mianne Bagger of Denmark lines up a putt during the second round of the 2007 ANZ Ladies Masters at the Royal Pines East Course on Feb. 9, 2007 at the Gold Coast, Australia.
(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

She expressed her support for an Australian lawmaker’s bill that would prohibit trans women to be excluded from female sports. The bill would have excluded Bagger from playing female sports as a trans woman, according to News.com.au.

“These days, [the dynamic] has crept into what’s called self ID or self identification: male-bodied people presenting as women, who live as women, with varying degrees of medical intervention and in some degrees, no medical intervention, which is just — it’s crossed the line, in my view, it really has … It’s a slap in the face to women,” Bagger said when asked why she supported the bill.

She told the news outlet it was important to note “the difference between general society and sport, particularly really high-level sport.”

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Danish transsexual golfer Mianne Bagger on Oct. 29, 2004.

Danish transsexual golfer Mianne Bagger on Oct. 29, 2004.
(FABRIZIO VILLA/AFP via Getty Images)

“In everyday society, of course we want an inclusive, egalitarian [society]. We want equality, lack of discrimination, and of course every single person should have equal access to life and services and work in society. Of course, we all want that, and so do I,” she said.

“In sport? It’s different. Sport is about physical ability. It’s not just about discrimination, it’s not just about equality and equal access. It is a physical ability. Now, if you’ve got one group — males — that are on average stronger, taller, faster, as opposed to women, there has to be a divide. There has to be a division.”

Bagger also took issue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s decision to drop policies in November that required trans athletes to be required to undergo “medically unnecessary” procedures or treatment. The IOC’s framework also said it will no longer require athletes to undergo hormone level modifications in order to compete in events.

Bagger called the decision “utter rubbish.”

“Anyone with any basic understanding on biology and the difference between men and women knows it’s ridiculous. It’s male puberty that really grants boys and men that physical performance in sport,” she told News.com.au. “And I think it’s irrefutable — it’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise.”

She added she was fine with being called a “hypocrite” over her stance.

Mianne Bagger of Denmark hits her tee shot on the first hole during round one of the 2010 Women's Australian Open at The Commonwealth Golf Club on March 11, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. 

Mianne Bagger of Denmark hits her tee shot on the first hole during round one of the 2010 Women’s Australian Open at The Commonwealth Golf Club on March 11, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. 
(Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

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The Australian bill introduced by Tasmanian Liberal Senator Claire Chandler was dubbed the “save women’s sport” bill. According to The Guardian, it would amend the Sex Discrimination Act in the country to “clarify” that single-sex sports based on biological sex were not a discriminatory action.

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