A golf coach giving fans lessons at a major tournament was forced to leave early because of transphobic abuse from spectators in a “deeply disturbing” incident.
Alison Perkins was coaching fans in a spectator zone during The Open Championship, the oldest golf competition in the world, when crowds allegedly hurled transphobic abuse at her.
She left the tournament early as a result, posting online that she was “sad to leave early” but that she was trying to “take the positives from the week not the negatives”.
“I will hopefully come back stronger one day,” said Perkins, who made headlines earlier this year as the first trans woman to compete in Regional Qualifying for The Open.
Open organisers condemn transphobic abuse
The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), of which Perkins is a professional member, and British Open organisers both offered her their undivided support and spoke out against the abuse and threats she’d received at the tournament, held at Royal St George’s in Kent, UK.
“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,” the R&A said in a statement.
“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.”
Witnesses said that Perkins was harassed at the end of her shift at the Swingzone. She reportedly said that “I am not going to go into details, but it was enough to make me leave”.
Perkins told The Telegraph her decision to leave The Open early was the right one as she needed “to be safe, keep my self respect and manage the hurt and pain this causes in my own way”.
“In my life I’ve had to fight many times to continue my journey to be a better me, coach and professional golfer… This is not worth the fight,” Perkins said.
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.
“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.”