In shades of biological male Lia Thomas’s domination of women’s college swimming last season, the world of professional women’s disc golf now finds itself beset with a biological male claiming to be a transgender woman who is knocking natural-born women out of top money all across the country.
Like Lia Thomas, all year, this new trans athlete, Natalie Ryan, has been taking home one trophy after another — and the thousands of dollars in prize money that comes along with them. And Ryan, who has instantaneously jumped into the rankings as the world’s fifth best-ranked women’s disc golfer, has only been playing the sport for a mere three years.
Disc golf has been shocked as Ryan has come out of nowhere to dominate women’s disc golf, knocking women out of the rankings which have been playing for many years.
In a far-reaching article on Ryan’s sudden rise to top rankings in the sport, Quillette’s Jonathan Kay notes that most women feel compelled to remain quiet on the unfairness of Ryan’s miraculous rise to the top. Still, a few women did speak out to him anonymously for fear of retaliation.
This year, Ryan won July’s Great Lakes Open in Milford, Mich., taking home $6,000 for a first-place finish, beating the sport’s no. 2-ranked player Paige Pierce. The Great Lakes Open was touted as a great leap forward because it featured a men’s and women’s division in disc golf. But, with Ryan winning the women’s division, it turned out men won both top categories.
As it happens, Paige Piece has been playing disc golf professionally for at least a decade and is a five-time Disc Golf world champion. But this year, she faced a “female” disc golfer who is only in the third season of playing and has soared to the top of this pro sport.
Ryan then entered the recent Disc Golf Pro Tour event held in Leicester, Mass., and toppled the sport’s no. 1 female player, Kristin Tattar. As a result, Ryan took home the top $9,000 prize, pushing Tatter to second place for $6,000.
Kay noted that many women in the sport feel pressured not to speak out against the transgender player. However, two women did supply Kay with some quotes but chose to remain anonymous for fear of being punished by the woke mob.
“I would say that one of the biggest advantages of the [male-bodied] players is their ability to scramble in tight situations when a disc goes off the fairway, to just stand there and blast a shot through the woods,” one woman said. “I’ve seen both [trans player] Chloe [Alice], and Natalie [Ryan] do this. They’re just standing still and throw the kind of [forehand shot] that I’ve never seen a female throw even under perfect conditions.”
The question of power seems to have been underscored since Ryan also won the 2021 U.S. Distance Championship women’s division with a throw of 458 feet.
Another woman told Kay that Ryan’s “form” isn’t even that good.
“What makes it worse is that Ryan’s form isn’t even that good,” the player said. “If it were, she’d be out-throwing us by even more. So while the rest of us spend years refining our form, trying to keep up and get more distance, she’s been in the sport only—what?—three years or something. And she’s already said [publicly], ‘Oh, I’ve got my form down. I don’t need to practice that.’”
A lack of form should not be surprising for anyone who only joined a sport a few years ago.
For his part, Ryan is pushing back on detractors by noting that the sport’s no. 2 female player, Paige Piece, is still topping the scoreboard.
“That’s not true. Paige out-drove me almost every hole out here today,” Ryan said after winning in July. “The people that are out there that think I don’t deserve to be here haven’t realized that I can’t do anything in this sport better than anyone else. I do some things very well, but I don’t do things the best across the board.”
The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) has also come out to defend Ryan as a “woman” and celebrated Ryan’s “historic win.”
“This past weekend, Natalie Ryan had a historic victory at Discraft’s Great Lakes Open,” the statement read. “Since her win, we have seen an increase in the volume of questions and feedback from the disc golf community on the topic of gender-based divisions and fair play.”
“The PDGA currently follows the most recent version of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards surrounding eligibility for play in gender-based divisions,” the statement added.
“The Disc Golf Pro Tour (DGPT) recognizes the validity of the transgender experience. We understand that there is a myriad of opinions across the professional disc golf fanbase regarding transgender athletes engaging in competition,” the statement concluded. “Furthermore, we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about fairness that should be addressed by medical professionals capable of forming appropriate policies. We follow current PDGA guidelines on this topic and are awaiting an update to their policy as outlined above. We’ve asked that all members of our community who are concerned about fairness engage in debate while showing respect and understanding for the human beings involved with the topic.”