Mianne Bagger was one of the very first trans women to play professional women’s sports. When she joined the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour in 2004, and then the Ladies European Tour in 2005, she was able to return to the sport she loved and blaze a trail for trans women who would follow.
At the time, she was still banned by the LPGA Tour simply because she was trans, but that didn’t stop these other tours, as well as many of the women competing, from inviting Bagger to be part of their select groups.
On the latest episode of the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast, Bagger talks about her experiences and her journey to understanding what that goes into creating policies regarding trans inclusion.
One of the most revealing parts of the conversation feature her sharing her experiences on the links pre- and post-transition.
“I remember the clubs that I used to hit, and I could see that my driving distances were shorter,” she says. “On par 3 holes, there’s one in particular that I know I used to use an 8-iron and I then used a 6-iron.”
On the podcast she also says the backspin she was able to put on shots around the green completely changed as well, struggling on the women’s tour to get the spin she had gotten before transition.
Now years after retiring, Bagger often finds herself at odds with other trans athletes on the issue of how to best include trans women in women’s sports. Her perspectives align more closely with virtually every public opinion poll about trans inclusion in women’s sports.
Bagger says she doesn’t have the perfect answer, but she believes the relatively little scientific information we’ve seen points to stricter paths to participation for trans athletes than we currently see with the International Olympic Committee and others.
Still, she feels most strongly that more studies need to be done and more information gathered.
“The big issue is obviously, what is the impact of transition,” she says, “the loss of testosterone, how long does that happen, to what degree is the effect or impact on a physical body, and does that confer to reasonable reduction in performance and strength to give access to women’s sport.”
She also says on the podcast she’s dismayed by people who come at the conversation with more focus on demands than science. Throughout her career she welcomed questions and discussion about her inclusion, sitting down with people who felt she didn’t belong and talking with them about it. Bagger feels she was able to earn people’s respect and admiration by talking with them, not at them.
Bagger says that today much of the conversation seems to be a lot of people yelling and pointing fingers at each other.
“How about going through a process of open dialogue, education, informing, and two-way discussion,” she said. “Take everyone on the journey of this growth. You can’t just lumber on someone’s doorstep and go, ‘this is me and I demand this and I want to do that and you damn well let me in.’… You’re not going to win any friends like that.”
You can listen to the conversation with Mianne Bagger on the Megaphone player, or by visiting Spotify for an easy browser player. Five Rings To Rule Them All is also available on Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts and many more platforms. Just search for Outsports wherever you get your podcast.
And be sure to follow Five Rings To Rule Them All on Twitter.
You can follow Mianne Bagger on Twitter @MianneBagger.