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18 Jul, 2021 13:47

‘Humans can be so cruel’: First transgender female to join Open golf qualifying leaves tournament after suffering ‘hurtful’ abuse

‘Humans can be so cruel’: First transgender female to join Open golf qualifying leaves tournament after suffering ‘hurtful’ abuse

Organizers have condemned abuse suffered by a transgender pro golfer after she left the showpiece following an incident during a coaching event, announcing that the "sun had set" on her tournament while canceling a TV appearance.

The PGA described Alison Perkins as a "highly skilled and dedicated coach" who was "respected and admired by her colleagues and golfers alike", praising the passionate ladies and junior mentor following her premature exit from the event, which is being held at Sandwich in the UK, after receiving abuse.

Heartbroken Perkins, who had voiced her excitement at watching star Bryson DeChambeau play at close quarters, was giving lessons in the spectator village when she was targeted.

Perkins returned to the Swingzone the following morning before deciding to watch the rest of the tournament at home, passing up a scheduled slot with broadcasters Sky Sports in The Open Zone.

"I made the right decision," Parker told supporters who later sent her words of encouragement, saying she had been "not quite strong enough" to withstand the unsavory set-to "this time".

"Thank you to everyone who has commented and sent support over the last couple of days. My first reaction is to shut down, taking time to reflect and then moving forward once more despite this setback.

"If people knew what a struggle I have every day to just be me, even outside the golf... sometimes I do think [to] give up, but then there is fire deep down inside that caries on.

"[This incident is] not the first and won't be the last. I experience something every week – it's just that this one hurt more."

Perkins stepped away from the sport around a decade ago to focus on the transition that she said made her feel more relaxed in herself.

She became the first transgender woman to compete in Regional Qualifying for The Open earlier this year.

"Alison is a valued member of the PGA's Swingzone team and we are deeply disturbed to have learned of the incident earlier this week," responded a spokesman for tournament bosses the R&A.

"We will be reaching out to Alison to offer our support and make it clear she is most welcome at The Open in future. We strongly believe that golf should be open to all and deplore any kind of discriminatory behaviour."

Perkins spent time alone but could not contain her hurt after her exit. "I needed to get away, be on my own and do what I like away from people," she confessed.

"Played a few holes of links golf at the club on the cliffs. It was nice to experience golf in conditions similar to that at The Open. Thinking hard about why and life... humans can be so cruel."

The PGA called the incident "very distressing" and said Perkins had its "full support at this difficult time."

"Alison has been an integral member of the Swingzone team, delivering free golf lessons to the general public at The Open, and has contributed a huge amount to its success this year as well as in previous years," it said.

"She is a highly skilled and dedicated coach and is respected and admired by her colleagues and golfers alike. The well-being of our members is our primary focus and we will continue to support Alison.

"We enjoy a diverse membership of more than 8,000 PGA professionals, who should all be free to work without fear of discrimination or prejudice."

Speaking on social media before her campaign began, Perkins said: "For the past 18 months, I have had a personal aim to compete in Open qualifying as the authentic me, 15 years since I Iast tried.

"It's been tough to even get to the first tee as I hit some mega lows that almost broke me, but I got up, made a plan, worked hard and drove down the first today... making history as the first trans female to compete.

"My journey, both as a person and a golfer, enables me to pass on my experience and helps others achieve dreams."

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