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The Open: R&A deplores ‘discriminatory behaviour’ after trans woman coach was forced to leave Sandwich

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Transgender woman golf coach Alison Perkins was forced to leave Royal St George’s early after being subjected to alleged transphobic abuse. The R&A has offered her its full support and condemned the “discriminatory behaviour”

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The R&A has offered its full support to golf coach Alison Perkins and condemned the alleged transphobic abuse she was subjected to at The Open.

Perkins was at Royal St George’s earlier this week in her capacity as a PGA professional, giving lessons to fans in the spectator village before being targeted as she prepared to leave the course following the end of her shift.

She returned to the Swingzone the following morning, but she was still understandably shaken and distressed by the previous evening’s incident and took the decision to head home.

Alison Perkins was giving lessons in the Swingzone at The Open Alison Perkins was giving lessons in the Swingzone at The Open

Perkins, who made headlines earlier this year when she became the first transgender woman to compete in Regional Qualifying for The Open, also had to cancel her scheduled appearance for Sky Sports in The Open Zone.

A spokesman for The R&A said: “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.

“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.”

The R&A’s stance was echoed by the PGA, which also declared its dismay at the incident.

A PGA statement read: “This is a very distressing incident and Alison has our 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.

Sky Sports Golf coach Alison Perkins tells Sky Sports News about her experience as a transgender woman working in the sport

“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.

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“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.”

“We are deeply disturbed to have learned of the incident earlier this week. We will be reaching out to Alison to offer our support and make it clear she is most welcome at The Open in future.”

R&A spokeman

Perkins, who also gave coaching lessons at Carnoustie in 2018 and Royal Portrush two years ago, told bunkered.co.uk that she was determined to put the incident behind her and return to the Swingzone for the 150th Open at St Andrews next year.

“Yes, it has hurt and caused much distress,” she said. “It only takes a few in thousands to do harm and it can take me a while to recover from this sort of thing. However, I like to draw on the good and not the bad. I will fight and be back at some point. For now, I just hope folk enjoy the Open. I am about portraying the positive in my life.

“What goes around comes around. I have many battles in life. Some I choose to fight, others are not worth it. The end goal is more important to me.”

Perkins later took to social media to explain her decision to cut short her week, although she insisted she would reflect on the positives from her time in Sandwich rather than dwell on the negatives.

“The sun has set early on my Open,” she wrote on her Twitter account. “I enjoyed my last day, walking round watching the golf and the PGA Swingzone. Sad to leave early but was the right decision for me, reflecting at home.

“I will hopefully come back stronger one day. It’s a tough journey I am on, trying to take the positives from the week not the negatives.”

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