A tumultuous week of legal action came to a close on Friday night.
May 12, 2023 by Ultiworld Disc Golf Staff in Analysis, News
Editor’s Note: This is a developing story.
The Disc Golf Pro Tour won on appeal in the Natalie Ryan case and will again enforce its Gender Eligibility policy, barring Natalie Ryan from further competition at the OTB Open after she played today in round one.
In a brief opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay to the temporary restraining order issued by the District Court yesterday, asserting that the Court lacked jurisdiction in the case. “It appears that the district court lacks diversity jurisdiction over the [Disc Golf Pro] Tour because Plaintiff and at least one member of the Tour are citizens of Virginia,” wrote the Ninth Circuit. For Ryan’s case to be heard in a federal court, one requirement is that the plaintiff (Ryan), who is a citizen of Virginia, must be totally “diverse” (i.e., from a different state) than the defendants. The District Court acknowledged uncertainty around whether or not it had jurisdiction but ruled in favor of Ryan anyway; the Ninth Circuit overruled that.
“This order restores the DGPT’s ability to enforce its current policy on Gender Eligibility,” wrote the DGPT in a statement. “The DGPT will follow the court’s ruling and enforce its Gender Eligibility Policy which will disallow Ms Ryan from continuing competition in the OTB Open.”
The Ninth Circuit’s ruling was not without ambiguity, though, as it granted the motion to stay to the DPGT while rejecting the stay with respect to the PDGA, the organization that created the transgender policy at issue in the case. While not crystal clear, it appeared as though the Ninth Circuit judges felt that granting the reversal to the DGPT (alone) would preclude Ryan from “competing in the Tour’s competition,” even though the District Court’s original restraining order applied to both defendants.
“The Tour has represented in its motion that it will not allow Plaintiff to compete unless compelled to do so by court order,” wrote the Ninth Circuit. “Because any possible cognizable irreparable harm to the [Professional Disc Golf] Association would depend on Plaintiff’s competing in the Tour’s competition, and because we are granting the Tour’s motion for a stay, the Association cannot meet the requirements for a stay.”
Ryan may re-file the case against the DGPT in California state court or prepare to file in other states, like Minnesota, where a transgender woman recently won a case against USA Powerlifting for barring her from women’s division competition. It is possible the case against the PDGA could continue in California federal court.
Ryan finished round one of the OTB Open one shot off the lead and in fifth place.