Ethics Hero: Transgender Pro Golfer Mianne Bagger

Nothing quite warms the cockles of an ethicist’s heart like a public figure stating the truth against his or her own perceived interests. That’s ethics. Add to that when such a statement is likely to enrage an especially vicious and ruthless activist mob, and the result is a clear Ethics Hero: ethics perception plus integrity and courage.

Australian professional golfer Mianne Bagger, the first transgender athlete to compete in a professional golf tournament Down Under, told that she supports a bill thatwould exclude trans athletes from female sports. “Letting trans athletes compete in female sport is a slap in the face to women,” Bagger told an interviewer. She explained that trans women competing in female sports leagues when they are  more biologically similar to men and often have not undergone the medical procedures necessary for complete transition is unfair and undermines the integrity of the sport.

(Are you reading this, Lia?)

She added,

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…I just don’t agree with the current, softened policies that are requiring less and less medical intervention of a male-bodied person entering women’s sport.

In every day 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. 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.


Ethics Hero.



19 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Transgender Pro Golfer Mianne Bagger

  1. So, I think I can share a personal story that is relevant to this one.

    I currently work as a writing tutor (more like essay tutor), and we had an employee who was transgender. She encountered a student’s paper that basically argued that some transgender people in sports create an unfair biological advantage . The student’s paper didn’t say anything more than that, and this employee went off on the student in an unprofessional way.

    When I confronted her, she told me I created an “unsafe space” and that the issue wasn’t two-sided. This person has since left.

    Seeing trans people call out the madness is more of what we need, because gender ideology extremists will try to play the transphobia card (just like the left uses the sexist or racist card) to shut down debate. It’s much harder to call someone transphobic who is in fact transgender.

    Mianne Bagger and Caitlyn Jenner are both very brave people. There’s nothing the left hates more than someone who is a member of a group that claims to represent not adhering to leftist ideology.

  2. I am a bit skeptical of her position. She was a professional golfer from from the age of 14, and transitioned a woman circa age 26 (including hormonal and surgical treatments). She then immediately began competing on the women’s circuit post transition.

    Her advocacy against biologically male persons who have not received any hormonal or surgical treatment competing against female competitors is certainly welcome. However, it must be noted that this is the extent of her opinion.

    She is still a biological male competing against women. Male puberty is not without potential advantage in competition against those who went through female puberty, even with hormonal and surgical intervention. To her credit, she says her own research into the matter says the advantage is negligible, so she is competing in good faith believing she has no inherent advantage. However, the conflict of interest in her research regarding this matter must be noted.

    • Thanks for bringing that up, Rich. I was confused about that myself but too lazy to investigate. I guess I assumed she was just a teaching pro or something like that. Du-oh. Maybe Jack should re-consider hero status?

    • I don’t see the conflict. She’s saying that the current rules that let her compete are unfair, but that does not make it wrong for her to compete in a league that allows her to do so.

      • Why isn’t Lia Thomas an ethics hero? She’s well within the rules. What difference does it make what she thinks or says?

        • I’ve always hated it when ethics permits and even encourages shitty behavior. It’s my main objection to the entire enterprise. It just has some dark corners.

          • Plus, golf is a sport. What about sportsmanship and a sense of fair play?

            Don’t people who want to vote steroid using baseball players in the HOF insist steroids weren’t really illegal until MLB began testing?

        • 1. Lia Thomas is the kind of trans woman Bagger is complaining about: one who mostly “identifies” as female. Lia is barely distinguishable from a male. She’s cheating, and she knows she’s cheating, using a loophole that has been left open by political correctness.
          2. Swimming is miles from golf as a sport that men have an unfair advantage in—Bagger’s career is an example, in fact. She doesn’t crush non-trans females. Renee Richards, the trans tennis pro, didn’t win any singles titles either.
          3. Bagger has developed her conclusions about trans women having an unfair advantage through competition over time. Now she’s being honest about what she has discovered. Criticizing the one trans athlete who’s speaking out rather than those who are collecting trophies while denying they have an advantage seems backwards to me.
          4. Your argument is a bit like the complaint that it’s unethical to take advantage of the mortgage deduction if you believe it is unfair. No, it’s the law, and every citizen is entitled to benefit from it who qualifies. One can still take the deduction and advocate eliminating it.
          5. Most steroids were illegal before they were banned, which is one reason why players hid their use of them. They knew they were cheating. That’s not an accurate analogy.

          • Other than Babe Dedrickson Zaharias (rumored credibly to have defeated Ben Hogan in a money game), pro women golfers cannot keep up with pro men golfers AT ALL. The men play courses that are literally a thousand yards longer, on average, than those the women play. The women simply don’t have the strength. I stood in line at an airport once behind Beth Daniel. She was big-guy built. There are very few non-lesbian (occidental) women golfers. Being part guy is a big, big advantage to a woman golfer (See: Babe Dedrickson Zaharias). To be an actual guy would be invaluable. Does Ms. Bagger dominate, maybe not. Maybe she’s just not that good. But she still has a huge advantage from her male strength.

            When ethical people come to a realization as to an inequity, they act upon it. Tour golf is a completely zero-sum game for pro golfers other than the super endorsed elite. Talk to one, some time. They’re a pretty snarly group. It’s a dog-eat-dog competition. Every dollar Ms. Bagger wins because she’s a guy is a dollar taken out of another woman golfer’s pocket.

            If this woman were deserving of ethics hero status, she’d retire from competitive women’s golf or play against guys. Calling her an ethics hero diminishes the category.

          • “4. Your argument is a bit like the complaint that it’s unethical to take advantage of the mortgage deduction if you believe it is unfair. ”
            The ethics in paying taxes and playing sport are different. The ethical thing to do in paying taxes is to pay what you are legally required to pay and not more and not less. In sport the ethical thing to do is to not compete in weaker classes where you have an advantage. A heavyweight boxer does not compete in the lightweight category.
            As for records, they should only count when all is fair and having former males competing as females, or older runners pacing runners in a younger age category is definitely unfair. For example, Recently, my athletics club had their junior track and field champs. To save time in the 1500m, some of the age groups were run together e.g. the 11 boys ran with the 12 boys. But any group that either the coach or the runner thought that a record was possible, then they could not run with an older age group as the older athletes could help the younger athletes with pacing and this would invalidate the record.
            In sports ethics it’s sportsmanship that counts and although Mianne Bagger is legally allowed to play in ladies’ golf tournaments, she has an unfair advantage and is therefore being unsporting.
            And when can an athlete compete in a women’s event rather than a men’s event when they are intersex? My suggestion would be that as the primary biological purpose of a women is to bear children, any intersex person with a particular condition that normally allows people with that condition to bear children then she should be regarded as female in sports. If they can’t bear children then they are male in sports.

            • “My suggestion would be that as the primary biological purpose of a women is to bear children,”

              Say what?

              “If they can’t bear children then they are male in sports.”

              Say what 2.0??

              • Runners like Caster Semenya of South Africa who has XY chromosomes and is intersex. If she can bear children then she is female and should not need to take testosterone lowering medication to compete as a woman, otherwise she can’t compete against women.

      • The conflict of interest is that she directly benefits from her conclusion that there she has no innate advantage. Her conclusion may still be sound, but the conflict warrants caution.

        I also missed the key sentence that she supported a potential law that would exclude her from competition. I thought she was merely speaking out against pre-transition males competing. In light of that key detail, my skepticism is moot.

  3. Nice to have a ready retort to the next trans sports controversy.

    And let’s hear it for a competitive golfer named “Bagger.” Awesome.

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