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The president of a Wyoming tennis association has resigned in protest after a trans-identifying male was allowed to compete against women in a tournament.
Jackie Fulkrod stepped down from her position as president of the Cheyenne Tennis Association board, saying she opposed trans-identifying male player Brooklyn Ross competing against women in the Wyoming Governor’s Cup this weekend.
“I think a man playing against a woman is a very unfair matchup when it’s specifically meant for women in that specific draw,” Fulkrod told the Cowboy State Daily. “I feel like having a transgender athlete compete in the women’s draw is against my personal integrity and what I believe and value.”
“My decision to resign was solely based on the fact that we didn’t have any way to protect our organization or protect our female athletes that are going to be playing in the tournament,” Fulkrod told the outlet.
Her mother, Mary Fulkrod, who also sat on the eight-member board, resigned as well.
Ross, a 27-year-old trans-identifying male athlete from Colorado, is set to compete in the women’s open singles division of the tournament this weekend. He has played in tournaments across the country, and just finished his junior year at the University of Texas at Tyler, an NCAA Division II school.
Ross is 6 feet tall and reportedly one of the best players on the team. He began identifying as female and going through the gender transition process six years ago.
“They probably haven’t had the experience of any trans woman being able to play, and I’m glad to be able to be able to [sic] kind of stand up for some of those people without a voice,” Ross told the Cowboy State Daily. “Kids that have to choose between their authenticity and playing a game.”
The Wyoming Governor’s Cup can be used to raise players’ United States Tennis Association ranking, which college coaches often consider in recruitment decisions. The Governor’s Cup tournament is governed by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Tournament director Peg Connor, who also is executive director of the Wyoming Tennis Association, would not comment on who made the final decision to allow Ross to compete but pointed to the USTA’s policies.
“Tennis thrives when the sport embraces inclusion,” the USTA said in its statement on trans-identifying athletes. “For that reason, tennis is open to all regardless of one’s age, ethnicity, race, religious background, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Fulkrod said that while she understands the tournament director’s position because of potential lawsuits, she still disagrees.
“I thought this is wrong, this is not something we want to set as a precedent in Cheyenne because what’s the next thing?” she said.
Fulkrod had served on the tennis association board for two years before her resignation.
Trans-identifying male athletes playing on women’s teams has become a hot-button issue in recent years. Female athletes have spoken up about having to compete against men, saying they missed out on awards because of their male competitors. Women and girls have also spoken about feeling uncomfortable sharing locker rooms with their biologically male teammates and competitors.