Professional golfer Lana Lawless is physically and legally a woman; it says so right on her birth certificate. But she didn’t used to be. She had sexual reassignment surgery in 2005, and at some tournaments, which have new rules requiring that competitors be “born female,” this has been a point of controversy.
That’s where San Francisco personal injury attorney Christopher Dolan of The Dolan Law Firm comes in.
The California LGBT lawyer is representing Lawless in a civil rights lawsuit against the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the Long Drivers of America (LDA), which they filed on Oct. 12. “It is important to fight intolerance wherever it rears its ugly head,” Dolan told Super Lawyers in a statement. “This unlawful activity harkens back to the days when African-Americans were precluded from qualifying and playing in professional golf tournaments.”
Lawless has been an LDA champion in recent years, but when the women’s division was canceled and then reinstated in 2010, with newly adopted rules matching those of the LPGA, the 57-year-old was told she no longer qualified for participation. These policies differ from other organizations, including the International Olympic Committee and the United States Golf Association that have allowed transgender people to compete.
Dolan, who was featured in the 2009 Northern California Super Lawyers issue, says the LPGA and the LDA are in direct violation of California law, citing the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination against all minorities, including transgender persons. “America was founded on the principal of tolerance for differences in beliefs and, over time, that principal has been recognized to include protection against discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc.,” he says. “Americans [must] protect against prejudice and preserve anti-discrimination laws; who knows when they may find themselves in need of their protection.”