Feb 19, 2024

Transgender Athletes, the Story of Professional Golfer, Dr. Bobbi Lancaster (Part 1)

mental hurdles of golf podcast

Dr. Bobbi Lancaster has lived an extraordinary life. Born male and originally named Bob, Bobbi felt from a young age that she was different. She loved sports and excelled at them, winning championships in multiple sports growing up. However, Bobbi also felt most comfortable expressing her feminine side and wearing girls' clothes. She hid this part of herself for decades, getting married and having kids while pursuing a successful career as a doctor. In her fifties, Bobbi finally transitioned to live openly as a woman. Her journey has been one of both joy and struggle as she continues to explore her identity.

A Natural Athlete with a Secret

From the time she was a young child, Bobbi showed exceptional athletic talent. She won field day competitions in elementary school, beating even the older kids in various track and field events:

"I was beating the grade eight kids in running and high jumping and long jumping and triple jumping."

Bobbi was a fierce competitor, fueled by a desire to prove herself against more privileged opponents:

"It was almost like, I'm going to just beat them anyhow. I just, it was that kind of a feeling of like, competition. Put me in trouble behind a tree and I'm going to find out a way. And you, with all your privilege and all your money and your fancy stuff, I'm going to beat you."

However, even as Bobbi relished her athletic success outwardly, she harbored a secret. From a young age, she felt most comfortable expressing her feminine side:

"I wanted to join in. And I also wanted to do hopscotch with the, you know, you draw chalk on the sidewalks...I wanted to dress like them because I thought it was pretty. And I wanted to, um, do things that they were doing."

Bobbi hid this part of herself, worried what others including her father would think if they knew how she truly felt inside.

Finding Joy and Connection Through Golf

One bright spot for Bobbi in her childhood was learning to play golf with her father. Golf gave Bobbi a sense of connection that was otherwise missing from their relationship:

"We didn't connect at all except there...my father was, um, a  second World War vet. He was a US paratrooper...He wasn't touchy feely. But that was my dad."

On the golf course, Bobbi experienced precious moments of bonding with her dad. She also discovered a passion for the game itself - the sheer joy of being outdoors, chasing butterflies and birds between shots.

Bobbi went on to achieve great success in golf over the years. She won the caddy championship at her local country club as a teenager, beating players far older and more experienced. In university, Bobbi captained the men's varsity golf team and led them to multiple championships. Golf became a huge part of her identity over the years.

Struggles with Identity and Depression

Even as she achieved outward success, Bobbi continued to be plagued by inner turmoil over her identity. She wondered if something was "wrong" with her for wanting to dress as a girl. Afraid of how she would be perceived and judged, Bobbi hid her true self from everyone:

"I knew that even though maybe I am one of those kinds of people I don't want to be made fun of, I don't want to be known for that. I want to be known for the star on the team or the golfer, so I was just hiding and kind of confused as to what I was going to turn out to be."

Bobbi descended into depression off and on over the years. She avoided thinking too much about her situation, throwing herself into work, golf, and other pursuits instead. Still, she could not escape the feeling that she was not living an authentic life.

Transitioning to Live Openly as a Woman

Finally, in her fifties, Bobbi made the decision to transition to openly living as a woman. This was an extremely difficult process involving hormone therapy, gender affirmation surgery, and telling all her family, friends, and colleagues. Bobbi lost her job and struggled to put down roots in a new community after moving to Arizona.

However, Bobbi mostly speaks about her transition with profound relief and joy. She loved seeing her body change on hormones, becoming thinner and less muscular. After surgery, Bobbi finally felt comfortable in her own skin for the first time:

"This is really comfortable now. This is the way my body was meant to be."

Rediscovering Golf and Finding New Purpose

After years away from golf, Bobbi returned to the sport she loved after her transition. However, with age and medical issues like macular degeneration, Bobbi started to lose aspects of her game that had once brought her so much joy. The loss of distance off the tee and inability to follow the ball flight were hard blows. Bobbi also struggled to find community and camaraderie at her new club.

For a time, Bobbi questioned whether it was fair for her to compete against cisgender women. Though encouraged by golf's governing bodies, Bobbi disliked feeling she had an advantage over female opponents who hit the ball shorter distances.

However, Bobbi realized golf was about more than competition for her - it was part of who she was. She decided to keep playing the game she loved so much, even as her physical abilities declined.

And Bobbi has found new purpose in recent years as well. She discovered a passion for nature guiding at a local arboretum, leading educational tours that have become hugely popular. Bobbi has also authored a book about the history of the arboretum.

Though golf may play a lesser role today, Bobbi's identity is no longer wrapped up solely in being a champion on the course. She has discovered new ways to challenge herself and connect with others.


Tune it to episode 112 for the continuation of Bobbi’s story.

Buy Your Copy of Dr. Bobbi Lancaster's Books Here: 

Red Light Runner

Putting Down Roots

The Doctor is In

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